Written by: Dawn Stewart
“She 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.” (Genesis 16:13)
Hagar was indeed a woman who knew suffering. She knew rejection and abandonment. She knew what it was like to be drawn into someone else’s drama and put in a situation she never asked for. Hagar, maidservant to Sarai (Sarah), knew what it was like to live in the consequences of someone else’s sin, the consequences of her mistress’s disobedience.
Have you ever experienced consequences from someone else’s choices? Sometimes we find ourselves reaping the pain of another’s sinful decisions. After years of being in recovery and listening to the stories of countless women who have landed in situations they never asked for, and enduring my own pain and hardship from the decisions of others, I can really relate to what Hagar must have been experiencing as she fled from Sarai.
A quick recap of the situation might sound like this:
God promised Abram that he would have offspring in his bloodline “as numerous as the stars” (see Genesis 15), even though he and Sarai had never had children and were past the childbearing years. Sarai did not trust God at His word and took matters into her own hands, offering her maidservant Hagar to her husband – a common thing during those times.
Hagar became pregnant as a result and Sarai fumed with jealousy and mistreated her. Hagar fled from Sarai – I imagine she was desperate for freedom from the pain and misery – and wound up at a spring in the desert. Here, she encounters God in an amazing way – a way I am sure she never expected. (see Genesis 16)
Hagar was desperately seeking freedom from captivity. I imagine she was scared, confused, lonely, and desperate. In her shoes, I may have done the same thing. In fact, I have.
I have run away from pain to my own “deserts” – places of isolation and self-pity, places of fear and misery, places of confusion and anxiety. I have turned to multiple “saviors” over the years, desperate to escape seasons of hardship.
Maybe Hagar, like myself – believed that she would find salvation in the desert. Maybe she thought that her true freedom would be found in leaving a bad situation. I’ve thought that way too. Have you?
Looking into this story in Genesis 16, God seemed to have a different idea about Hagar’s freedom than she did. The Lord seemed to know something about her future that she did not. Isn’t that always the way?
All we can see is what is right in front of our face or what we are currently feeling. God sees the whole picture. He knows what we do not and we can trust Him in this: He sees us and He knows us better than we can possibly imagine.
Hagar experienced this facet of God’s character. As she sat in the desert – probably trying to come up with a plan for what to do – God sent a messenger to her.
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.” (Genesis 16:7)
God didn’t let Hagar sink in the pit of despair. He didn’t lose sight of her as she ran from the problems she was facing. He saw her every tear. He felt her every pain. He was with her as she tried to solve her own problem – by herself. He heard her silent desperation and He responded with His Love. He had a different plan for her life. He reassured her of her future – and told her to go back.
She wasn’t going to find the freedom she so desperately desired by running away from her problems. She wasn’t going to find salvation by trying to avoid and escape her hardship. She had to go back and face it. Sometimes we have to go back in order to move forward in the plans God has for our lives.
I don’t imagine it was easy for Hagar to return. In fact, if you read on in Genesis 21 – you will see that she experiences more hardship. But once again, God sees her and hears her cry for help. Ladies, He is indeed a good, good Father.
Sisters, God sees you too. He is with you in this time of hardship. He feels your pain. He collects your tears. He will not waste this hurt. He will not forsake or abandon you in this desperate attempt to flee your current situation. He will be with you always. He will meet you where you are and – if you allow it – He will guide you in the direction of His plans for your life.
As Hagar discovered God is El Roi: a God who sees us. Call to Him now. He sees you. He loves you. He will rescue you – in His time and in His way. Sisters, your part in this is to let go of your plans and trust Him.
What do you need to trust God for today?
In what area of your life do you struggle to believe that God really sees you?
Where do you need to go back in your life, in order to move forward?