Genesis 16 The Message (MSG)
1-2 Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.
3-4 So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place. He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress.
5 Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.”
6 “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.”
Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.
7-8 An angel of God found her beside a spring in the desert; it was the spring on the road to Shur. He said, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, what are you doing here?”
She said, “I’m running away from Sarai my mistress.”
9-12 The angel of God said, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse.” He continued, “I’m going to give you a big family, children past counting.
From this pregnancy, you’ll get a son: Name him Ishmael; for God heard you, God answered you.
He’ll be a bucking bronco of a man, a real fighter, fighting and being fought,
Always stirring up trouble, always at odds with his family.”
13 She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “You’re the God who sees me!
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”
14 That’s how that desert spring got named “God-Alive-Sees-Me Spring.” That spring is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15-16 Hagar gave Abram a son. Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave him his son, Ishmael.
Genesis 21:9-21 The Message (MSG)
9-10 One day Sarah saw the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, poking fun at her son Isaac. She told Abraham, “Get rid of this slave woman and her son. No child of this slave is going to share inheritance with my son Isaac!”
11-13 The matter gave great pain to Abraham—after all, Ishmael was his son. But God spoke to Abraham, “Don’t feel badly about the boy and your maid. Do whatever Sarah tells you. Your descendants will come through Isaac. Regarding your maid’s son, be assured that I’ll also develop a great nation from him—he’s your son, too.”
14-16 Abraham got up early the next morning, got some food together and a canteen of water for Hagar, put them on her back and sent her away with the child. She wandered off into the desert of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she left the child under a shrub and went off, fifty yards or so. She said, “I can’t watch my son die.” As she sat, she broke into sobs.
17-18 Meanwhile, God heard the boy crying. The angel of God called from Heaven to Hagar, “What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy and knows the fix he’s in. Up now; go get the boy. Hold him tight. I’m going to make of him a great nation.”
19 Just then God opened her eyes. She looked. She saw a well of water. She went to it and filled her canteen and gave the boy a long, cool drink.
20-21 God was on the boy’s side as he grew up. He lived out in the desert and became a skilled archer. He lived in the Paran wilderness. And his mother got him a wife from Egypt.
What words would you use to describe this God we serve? Mysterious? Surprising? Magnificent? Crazy?
To quote one of my favorite writers, “I [God] am immanent—throughout the entire universe. I am also transcendent—existing above and independent from the universe. I am the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Therefore, do not expect to understand Me or My ways.”
So does this immanent, transcendent, crazy God truly see us? Does God see into the deepest crevices of our hearts and whorls of our brains and understand what we most deeply long for? Does He know what we passionately pursue and obsess over? Yes, yes, yes. He knows it before we speak it. He knows it before we think it. And lest you have forgotten, it is Christ’s death that allows us to approach the throne of our great God without fear. It is Jesus our savior who mediates with God for us (1 Timothy 2:5).
So if God understands what we long for, then why doesn’t He simply give it to us? Because he knows everything, he knows better. Romans 11:33-36 explains…
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
How we complicate things when we forget these truths! How we minimize the power of our God when we attempt to take the reins of our life in our own hands! But sisters, you know that at some point in our lives we all smack face first into this wall. The details of the situation vary, but the feelings are the same…it is gut-wrenching, mind-warping, confusion. We feel angry and disconnected as we beseech our Lord! God? What is happening here?
We meet Sarah in this place of desperation. Could you stomach encouraging your husband to lie with another woman? Arghhh… What will this do to the already tenuous relationship between these two women?
Let’s consider Hagar…the other woman…a slave to the whims and wishes of her mistress. Hagar’s mind is going a completely different direction. We don’t know for sure, but there is no reference in scripture that Hagar has any feelings for Abram or that he has any feelings for her. This is a transaction, not an act of love. Perhaps you’ve been similarly used and abused by someone in this life. If so, you can resonate with Hagar’s feelings. I imagine that Hagar’s monologue must play inside her mind because she is a slave she doesn’t have the freedom to stage a major meltdown. In my mind’s eye, I see her working at some menial task as these words loop inside her…
Everything is out of my control. I’m at the mercy of every person around me. I am weak. I am powerless. She has the authority and the means and the support system to do anything she wants. I’m the victim. I am so afraid that God has completely forgotten about me.
What is the base motivation of both Sarah and Hagar’s actions? Fear. They’ve forgotten that their creator God can be fully trusted to work out all these circumstances to their good. Don’t we do the same? Aren’t there times in all of our lives when we forget who God is? Our fear lies to us.
Ponder this verse…
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)
So when Hagar runs away to the desert, God is there, because God is everywhere. He called out to her and then she [Hagar] answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “You’re the God who sees me! “Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”
How about you? Do you believe that Jehovah-Jireh is our rock…the Lord who provides…the foundation on which we can fully stand? I’m grasping onto this particular promise tightly right now, my knuckles white with the clenching…
I love you, God—
you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
where I run for dear life,
hiding behind the boulders,
safe in the granite hideout. (MSG)
Today I am sitting next to my husband’s hospital bed. A quickly arranged heart catheterization procedure is scheduled for this afternoon. This is not where either of us expected to be today!
Sisters, my situation is not unusual or special in any way. It’s just another example of how our lives can take an unexpected left turn in a heartbeat. Truly, the only choice we have is how we will respond to the things that happen in life—how will we respond to the actions of the people around us and the circumstances created by broken people in what we know is a broken world? God understands our anxious feelings. We can know that God is firmly in control and ultimately, He will be glorified.
Hagar was impatient with God and chose to take circumstances in her own hands because she was angry and fearful. I know I’ve done the same thing many times…if only I’d prayed first and waited for God’s leading! I could have saved myself so much pain. Hagar’s despair led to desperate actions and it was only when she gave up that God reached down. How many times have I gotten myself into a mess and then asked God to help me?
There is mercy. There is hope. We serve a God of compassion. He is the God of second chances. He made the ultimate sacrifice in sending His only son to die for our sins. I’m so very grateful for what Jesus did for me! You and I must always remember that God loves and cares for us even when we mess it all up. There’s always a do-over and ultimately, we don’t have to figure anything out on our own. As we face uncertain outcomes, we don’t have to fear because we know the Rock on we stand. And that, dear sisters, is enough.
Heavenly Father, sometimes I’m a hot mess of fear and anxiety because of the people and the problems in my life that I can’t possibly control. There are times when I feel desperate and alone. Forgive me for those times when I forget your words of truth and try to be the god of my own life. This attitude just brings me a world of hurt. You are God and I am not! Teach me to trust you more so that love and mercy, as well as your peace and your kindness, will follow me. I understand that You are greater than any problem that I am facing. I have a deep desire to trust You, not myself or anything else in this broken, crumbling world. I know that in the end, all of this will pass away and only Your kingdom will stand. May your will be done. Amen.
This worship song comforts me more than I can say. Enjoy Be Still by Hillsong.
God is good…all the time…It wouldn’t be fair to leave you, dear reader, wondering how my husband’s story ended. The cardiologist found one small blockage in a tiny blood vessel, too small to repair with a stent. Follow-up care is baby aspirin, a change in a prescription drug, and a visit to the doctor on a regular basis. This incident was exactly what my husband needed at just the right time, but isn’t that just how God works? We are feeling pretty blessed right now. This story could have ended very differently, but with God in control, whatever the ending, happy or no, I will yet praise Him. Psalm 42
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 38 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is on the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.