A WOMAN TO ADMIRE
While she is often looked down upon
in Church history, I feel that Hagar, whose story is found in
the book of Genesis, is a woman worthy of much admiration. In
the face of adversity, she found God ready to meet her needs and
see her through some really hard times. As God reached down to
her, she reached up to Him in faith, believing that He would make
good His promises.
Since she was a slave girl, she was
at the beck and call of her mistress, Sarah. When Sarah came up
with the idea to give Hagar to her husband Abraham to have the
child that she couldn’t seem to conceive, Hagar didn’t really
have a choice but to obey.
To her discredit, once Hagar conceived, she became haughty in
her pregnancy and Sarah became jealous. Being unwilling to face
the consequences of her own decision to give Hagar to Abraham
to bear his child, Sarah appealed to Abraham, who handed Hagar
over to the jealous Sarah. Sarah immediately began to treat Hagar
harshly, wreaking vengeance on Hagar’s prideful behavior.
Sarah’s treatment of Hagar was so harsh
that Hagar ran away. She fled into the wilderness, probably seeking
to return to her family in Egypt. Hagar must have felt hopeless
at this point and unsure of what to do. Egypt was 150 miles across
the hot desert, and Hagar was great with child. When she was at
the end of human hope, God found her. It was here in the wilderness
that Hagar witnessed two of the grandest attributes of God, his
omnipresence and his omniscience; God is everywhere and he knows
While she was resting at a fountain
on her journey, and “Angel of the Lord” called her and advised
her to return, telling her in a few words the great future of
her unborn child. In Genesis chapter 16 we find the words of the
angel. The angel said, "I will so increase your descendants that
they will be too numerous to count." The angel of the LORD also
said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone
and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers."
Hagar in turn gave the Lord the name
“You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen
the One who sees me." And the well at which she sat was called
Beer Lahai Roi, meaning “The well of Him who lives and sees me”.
Obedient to God’s command, Hagar returned
to Abraham and Sarah. When her child was born, she name the boy
Ishmael, meaning “God hears”, just as the angel had directed her
to do. But her life was not an easy one. They lived in Abraham
and Sarah’s household for fourteen years before Sarah bore Abraham
Isaac, the child of promise. As Isaac grew, Hagar and Ishmael’s
jealousy became evident. When Ishmael began to maltreat Isaac,
Sarah could no longer tolerate it and she compelled Abraham to
cast out Hagar and her son. Abraham sent them off into the wilderness
of Beersheba to an almost certain death, with only a skin of water
and some food.
After the water was gone, Hagar put
her son under the shade of a bush and went some distance from
him, not being able to bear to see him die. Here she sobbed in
despair and her cries were joined by that of Ishmael. Hagar had
forgotten God’s promise to her and that her son’s name meant “God
hears”. But God didn’t forget and he heard the cries of both mother
and child. He called out from heaven “Fear Not!” God saw their
plight and assured her that they would indeed live and that Ishmael
would become a great nation. He then opened her eyes so that she
saw a well and he then commanded her to get up and take the boy
with her. Once again, Hagar mustered up her courage and stepped
out in faith. She filled her skin and they drank.
Through the gracious provision of God,
Hagar found the faith and strength to raise her son in the desert
alone. God was with the boy and he grew strong. He became an archer,
which undoubtedly provided food for his mother and himself. Because
of her obedience to God, Hagar was truly blessed. As God promised,
Hagar lived to see her son grow up, marry, have children, and
become a ruler of a great nation.