Genesis 16:1-13 and Genesis 21:1-20 bring us face to face with an Old Testament relationship disaster. We get front row seats to watch circumstantial loneliness manifest-and become a platform for poor decision-making. Enter our main character: Hagar.
Hagar is an Egyptian slave and Sarah’s rival. She didn’t have a voice as a slave, so she did what she was told. As a slave, Hagar was alone with no one to defend her. She was a foreigner in a land not her own. Everything reminded her of the distance between her existence and Egypt. She was lonely. (Gary Richmond, Successful Single Parenting, chapter 3).
I wonder if you’ve been a slave…maybe to loneliness? Have you, like Hagar, kept your mouth closed because you didn’t feel like you had a voice; a right to speak, or deserve to be heard? God interrupted her-and although He already knew the answer-asked her to speak to Him about what was wrong. Don’t you find that both odd and comforting? Loneliness may have told you to keep your mouth closed, but God clearly encourages the opposite.
Hagar finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, and pregnant. At the sign of her expanding abdomen, Sarah becomes vile. In verse six-we learn that Hagar has had enough, and takes off. In this first escape, the Lord spoke to Hagar and asked her where she was going. The angel of the Lord said the Lord heard her misery. The same God that heard Hagar in the desert, hears the cries of His children today. When we are at our weakest, God is at his best. Take a second and fill up on that truth. We would find Shabbat, true rest, if we believed it.
Hagar’s second escape, found in Genesis 21:1-20, was different. This fleeing wasn’t by her choice. “Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. ” (Genesis 21:14-17)
She was alone and afraid-without one shekel to her name. She was desperate, without direction, no destination in sight. The thing that kept her occupied was her overwhelming concern for her child. So much so-she apparently missed what God had provided. In verse 19-20 we read, “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up.”
Have we been so caught up in the distractions of our disappointments and trials that we’ve failed to seek Him? Been still long enough to be aware of His voice, leading, or provision?
Rest in this…nothing we experience ever escapes His notice. God lovingly intervened (more than once) on her behalf. He heard. He cared. He provided.
Food for thought:
What motivated her?
Bearing the child of Abraham, the leader of the tribe, would have elevated Hagar socially. Do we make decisions, in our loneliness, to temporarily elevate our confidence and self-worth?
Hagar felt like running away, and she did. Her destination, although short-lived, was a desert. Where do we run in our loneliness or pain? What are some of the deserts of our own choosing?
Where did she go?
We credit God with some really awful things we have walked into, or created ourselves. Proverbial deserts, if you will. Regardless of “where” we find ourselves; we can take her lead and cry out to our God that Sees.
Start by Confessing: any pride, selfishness, your inability to allow healthy relationships, or short-sightedness regarding His provision.
Then Ask Him: for freedom from the desert, and for new relationships that will bring you encouragement and hope.
Thoreau said, “Most people live lives of quiet desperation.” It’s so unnecessary…we need to get up, get out and get going!
How? Share your loneliness or need with family and friends. Make new friends who build you up. Join a community group and participate in your area community activities. Fellowship with others and grow by attending a Sunday school class. Develop a keen awareness of God.
We are truly only alone when we fail to remember that God is near, or when we’ve turned our back on intimacy with Him. As Hagar discovered and proclaimed-He is the God who sees. Can He see if He’s not watching? No. We have to walk in faith…
Take comfort, sweet friend, God is watching. He cares. He will provide. Hold on to that hope!