The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; and the angel of the Lord said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard my misery.” And Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me... So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.
Genesis 16: 7, 11, 13, 15
Peeking across the yard out of Sarah’s tent, we find Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian maid-servant. Ever wonder how she might have felt about being a pawn in Sarah’s forced, and frantic, arrangement to have a child? Let’s saunter over and see if we relate to her in any way...
Here are a few questions for you:
r Have you ever felt as if your life had been completely ripped away from you?
r Ever felt that everything near and dear had been stripped away?
r Have you ever felt that even your identity was stolen from you, and now, you are a complete non-entity?
r In fact, have you ever felt that you were nothing more than a poker-chip? A pawn in someone else’s game of life?
r Have you ever felt devalued? Insignificant?
r Worse, have you ever felt invisible?
r Have you ever felt unheard or unseen?
r Ever felt trapped...forced to go where you didn’t want to go; to do things you never wanted to do? Enslaved?
r Have you ever felt completely alone?
r Have you ever longed for compassion and come up empty...every time?
r Have you ever felt so completely hopeless, like you were really just hanging onto life by a single thread...and even it was beginning to splinter?
This was Hagar’s day to day existence. She was a slave. Probably part of the “loot” Abraham received from Pharaoh after he tried to deceive the ruler with lies about his wife, Sarah. She was forced to leave home, family, country, comforts of a palace-life, and everything familiar to live a nomadic existence. She was also forced to obey the whims and fancies of her mistress.
It’s difficult to judge her reaction when she found out she was pregnant with Abraham's child. “When she knew she was pregnant she began to despise her mistress (Gen 16:4).” She began to look on Sarah, perhaps in the way she felt looked upon...with an inner attitude of “smallness.” She probably didn’t have to say a word; her demeanor said it all. She pushed Sarah’s core fear button with a vengeance, and Sarah (like all of us who have our core fear buttons pushed) reacted back...harshly. So Hagar ran. BUT GOD! God came to her in the desert - the driest place of her life! He “looked” at her as no one else had. Verse 11, Ishmael means: "The Lord has been attentive in my humiliation.” God saw. Verse 13, “You are El Roi – the God who sees me.” Read into this carefully. The Lord didn’t just hear – he listened. He didn’t just see – He looked right through her, examined her heart, paid close attention to her “woundedness.” Sarah was God’s princess. Hagar was the slave. Yet, never once did God appear directly to Sarah, and twice (again in Genesis 21), God appeared to Hagar. Truth: God doesn't look at status, when it comes to the cry of the human heart...
Seeing and hearing her misery would have been enough in itself, but God went even further. He restored her significance and her hope – she would mother a line of descendents too numerous to count. Hagar had a reason to return to Abraham and Sarah. Her son needed a father. With a restoration of her dignity, her humanization, a future and a hope, and having been comforted by the One True Comforter, Hagar could return with submission, until her next steps were revealed, as God ordained them to be.
This is our God. El Roi! El Ysma! The God who Sees - me! The One who Hears – me! Do we run to that God when in need of compassion and hope? He’s waiting! And, you will not come up empty!