by Heather Bock
Please don’t miss a Bible giveaway I have at the end of this post!
Do you need to be reminded, not just of God’s love for the world, but of God’s notice of each individual today, of God’s particular love for you? If so, let’s start with Hagar.
Who was Hagar? May I introduce you?
Hagar was an Egyptian maid, probably given to Abram when he was in Egypt to escape a famine. There Pharaoh took a fancy to Abram’s wife Sarai, apparently the most beautiful girl around, and wanted her as one of his own. In exchange, he gave Abram, among other rich presents, some female servants. If Hagar was indeed one of them (as is likely), although she was a servant, she must have been a well-trained one. She didn’t work for low-class families but for the house of Pharaoh himself. Who knows how she felt, a servant working amid the best luxuries, to have been given like an adorned ornament to a rich nomad living a tent-life. The cause of this change? Sarai. Hagar was forced to leave her life by the Nile to repeatedly move from one dry place to another with wells as the only water source.
I’m not sure what Hagar’s job would have been for Abram, but the man was very wealthy, so he had to have had more than one tent with lots of work to do. Genesis 14:14 says that he and 318 of his trained servants, born in his house, went out to fight a battle. With that many servants, Hagar seems to be one among many. She must have worked inside, as she came in contact with Sarai. Sarai did think she was worthy enough to be chosen as a surrogate mother of sorts when Sarai couldn’t have children of her own.
It doesn’t seem that the world of her time thought too much of Hagar, even if she had been Sarai’s personal servant. She was still not only a poor servant, easily discarded and traded, but a female. However, then Hagar earned a major title of respect: mother. She wasn’t just any mother but the mother of the child of the powerful, wealthy man who owned her. She was the woman who produced a child when her own powerful, beautiful mistress could not–the same mistress who had indirectly caused her to be taken from the palace.
Maybe it was the remembrance of her former high station, a grudge she held against the woman who had bewitched the Pharaoh, or simply the triumph of showing up her mistress in such a fundamental way, but she foolishly made a very sensitive situation worse by showing contempt for a grieving, barren woman. Considering this pregnancy a sign of her superiority, she let it slip. Perhaps it was the first feeling of power she had ever had. She carried the all-important heir inside her–who could harm her?
She judged wrong.
After having heard Sarai’s bitter complaints, Abram placed Hagar in his jealous wife’s dangerous hands. We don’t know what Sarai did, but we do know she dealt with Hagar so harshly that she fled quite a long ways in the direction of Egypt. She ran straight to the safest place for her, perhaps the most like her river-centered homeland that she could find–a natural spring.
The invulnerability Hagar must have felt in order to show disdain for her powerful mistress was long gone. The child she carried heavy in her womb may have felt more like a curse than a blessing at that point. She was weak and in a perilous position, but she had pride or fear enough to not dream of returning.
Then she met God.
Those for whom she worked in the palace probably had never paid much attention to her, a lowly servant. The others in Abram’s tent encampment didn’t note her as much as they did the stunning Sarai. Sarai did consider her but only as someone to use–she didn’t care much about her well-being. Abram certainly had to regard her, but she wasn’t his choice–he was just following his wife’s wishes.
God noticed her. He heard her affliction.
Alone, suffering by a spring in the wilderness, Hagar met the God who sees.
The Angel of the Lord (commentators say this is the pre-incarnate Jesus, partly due to her response that she saw the Lord) didn’t have entirely good news to give her, but he did provide her with hope. He directed her to return, to humble herself under Sarai. He informed her of future difficulties for her son, but He also promised the blessing of great multiplication, of a great nation. All this communicated a more immediate insurance: she needn’t fear death as a result of Sarai’s harshness, at least while she carried the son.
Hagar was overwhelmed, not able to believe she had lived through an encounter with God. She named him El Roi, the God Who Sees.
Have you ever felt unnoticed, abandoned, or cast out? Do you feel your suffering is so great that God must not be listening to your prayers and that He must not care about you?
He is the God Who Sees. He sees you, and He cares. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (II Chron. 16:9). He hears your affliction, as He heard Hagar’s. Submit yourself and trust in Him like Hagar did when she returned to Abram’s camp. He has great promise for you.
Do you have a time in your life that made clear that you were noticed by God Himself? If so, will you comment below?
Are you suffering and don’t feel this love of which I speak? Either comment below or email me at heather.bock[at]glimpsesofjesus.com, as I would love to listen to you and pray for you.
See Genesis 12-16 for Hagar’s complete story.
Backpack Bible Giveaway
The stories of the Bible like this one of Hagar give us words of life. They teach us to hope in the One who notices us and loved us before we even noticed Him. Therefore, I’m excited to be able to give away an NIV Bible especially for 8-12 year old girls. I wrote a review about it here. Although it says “Follow your heart” on the front, I believe we can take that to mean, “Follow Your heart,” as in God’s heart. As long as we follow God’s heart, we will be in the right place.
It’s a pretty little Leathersoft (TM) Bible, one that delighted my daughter, and I believe it would make a wonderful, meaningful Christmas present for a young girl in your life.
If you’d like to enter in my drawing for this free Bible (normally retailed at $24.99):
- Click the button “follow” in the place under my picture (top right of a computer and way down below the comments on a phone) where it says, “Follow Blog Via Email.” Once you hit the button, it should give you a place to type in your email address. You may have to follow up with an email sent to you to fully subscribe, so check your spam folder if it doesn’t arrive in your inbox.
- Please notify me in a comment of your name so I will know who to congratulate if you win!
To earn more entries, or if you’re already following my blog,
- Share this post via social media. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry (up to three).
- Let me know in a comment where you’ve shared.
- Notify me of your name.
Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada and are only open to those who have not won from me in the last year.
I will announce the winner on Wednesday, November 1, so look for it! If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I will draw another name. Thank you!