"God Realy Does Know All About It"
SCRIPTURE: Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees.” Genesis 16:13 (New American Standard Bible)
Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid, was the first recorded surrogate mother. But unlike surrogates today, Hagar had no voice in Sarai and Abram’s decision-making process which completely and totally impacted her life.
Hagar was determined to have a real choice in the consequences of Sarai and Abram’s decision. That didn’t work either. Hagar’s story powerfully illustrated that when we suffer because of others’ messes; God intervenes and gives us hope and a future. God does see us; He is El ROI.
God cares about us, knows where we are, hears our prayers and answers them in the best way at the best time.
More times than we would like, our lives can be like Hagar’s. Granted, we always have the decision to choose how we will respond to circumstances and events; but, many times we cannot alter or change the underlying decision.
We do not desire sickness or death for those we love and cherish; but, if they refuse to hear our pleas and cries encouraging them to make different choices about their health and lifestyle, we are left to deal with the stuff of their decisions.
In these dark moments, God yells to us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jeremiah 1:5).” He wants us to shift our focus outside ourselves and ponder bigger questions. What is God up to? What is He doing? How can I help Him accomplish His purposes?”
Oswald Chambers wrote: “Learn to relate everything in your own life to God, and remember that if things go wrong, it is because they must go wrong, but the must is not necessity; it is God.”
PRAYER:Father, help me to see You in every blessing and challenge of life.
"Let's Just Get Through Today"
Scripture:“He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him. Genesis 16:12 (New American Standard Bible)
God both named and foretold Hagar’s son’s future. Ishmael’s future, as revealed to Hagar, probably was not exactly as she had anticipated.
Knowing for sure what the future holds is not necessarily a good thing. The future can be rather dark and bleak, hopeless and seemingly without end. No wonder in Joshua 1, God three times commanded Joshua to “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid.” God promised to be with Joshua wherever Joshua went. That’s an absolute promise, “wherever.” From God’s absolutes we can submit to David’s instructions to “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD (Psalms 27:14).”
How often we lie to ourselves when we demand God to show us the future? The cares and worries of today are crushing us and we want to know the specifics of the future! Really now! What we are really saying is, “Lord, please confirm that everything will be alright (by my definition of ‘alright’).” With our limited spiritual eyesight, we look at our lives with microscopes – God uses His omnipotent telescope which takes Him to the end of time.
Just shy of her 48 birthday, my sister, Jennifer, died from a rare form of cancer. We were a family of ten; three brothers, five sisters and two parents. Including Jennifer, we each had our own special request of God about her condition. Our requests competed against each other. But God answered each of our petitions in a wonderful mosaic of events. In her passing, we saw God’s tender compassion which enabled each of us to “be strong and of good courage.”
A dark future was brightened by God’s presence.
PRAYER: Father, because You are already in the future, I also can confidently go there.
"It Really is Quite Clear"
Scripture:Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking (Isaac). Genesis 21:9 (New American Standard Bible)
This time Hagar did not run from Sarah; Sarah wanted Hagar and Ishmael cast out! Hagar was stunned! Surely it had crossed her mind that Sarah would die without giving birth to the ‘promised child;’ then Hagar and Ishmael would take their rightful places – she as the new wife and Ishmael as the first born and only son.
There was contempt in Sarah’s voice as she refused to call Ishmael’s name when she bitterly complained to Abraham about Ishmael’s contempt for Isaac. It was if she absolutely absolved herself of any responsibility for Hagar and Ishmael’s plight. Abraham was Hagar’s only hope.
What would he decide?
Probably Hagar had some choice words for God since He had done nothing when Sarai suggested that Hagar become Abram’s second wife, nor had God spoken against Sarai when she dealt harshly with Hagar. How could God, who had spoken directly to Hagar requiring her to return and submit to “mean” Sarah, not bother to give Hagar at least a heads up on Ishmael’s future so that she could have better prepared him for Isaac’s birth?
What a second class citizen complex Ishmael and Hagar experienced. At the table, but not wanted. It makes perfect sense that Ishmael would have negative feelings toward Isaac. This family’s curse of jealousy played out again in the story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37). Even the disciples struggled for first position in Jesus’ coming kingdom (John 13).
Family generational curses are for real, just as family generational blessings are for real. It requires an enormous amount of focused work and commitment to break curses and strengthen blessings.
But once we have a made up mind to change our responses to the same old stimuli, we can pray like Jabez, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NIV).”
Prayer:Father, I praise You because what is so clear to me is not necessarily what You clearly want me to see.
"You Prayed For Me?"
Scripture:And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Genesis 21:17 (KJV)
Hagar had nothing to say to God. Things had gone from bad to worse, and they appeared to be worsening.
Hagar’s new critical test depended upon her understanding of Abraham’s God. And based upon everything she had experienced, Abraham’s God was symbolic of pain, loss and disappointment.Abraham had given Hagar and Ishmael enough water and bread to make it to the next well. She was not privy to the conversation between Abraham and God, when God said that He would also bless Ishmael.
But she had also apparently forgotten her first encounter with God, when He promised to make Ishmael a great nation.What was Ishmael saying that got God’s attention over Hagar’s cries?
Why was God more willing to respond to his voice than Hagar’s voice? How could Ishmael’s situation demand more and get immediate attention? And why did God have to make it so clear that it was all about Ishmael: “Hagar, because of Ishmael’s voice I am checking on you.” He could have just kept that editorial comment to Himself!
Again, an angel communicates with Hagar. Before the angel’s questions were designed to make Hagar articulate her situation and her issues (Genesis 16), but this time Hagar has already articulated her situation and issues; the cause of her bitter tears and loud crying. She was willing to die from thirst and hunger, but to see her only son likewise die was just too much.
This day in Hagar’s life confirms that we have been blessed because God heard and answered another’s prayer. Abraham prayed for his oldest son – - he struggled with obeying God to send him away. Ishmael prayed and God sent an angel.
When we are too stressed to pray for ourselves, we are truly blessed when if we have others who pray for us.PRAYER:Father, today my life is good; for whom do You want me to pray?
Bible Text: And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. Genesis 21:19 (KJV)
Water! Hagar saw a well of water.
After the angel of God spoke “fear not” to Hagar, he gave specific instructions and Hagar had to decide whether or not to obey, without any more assurance than that of the angel’s word that all would be well.
Why does “fear not” come with instructions when all of our senses tell us it a good time to bolt and run, like Jonah, in the opposite direction? She was to retrace her arrow’s (bowshot) distance back to the shrub where Ishmael lie crying and dying, and lift the emaciated teenager into her arms.
In this author’s imagination, I believe that Hagar felt truly inspired to provide an encouraging word to her dying son. Thus, Hagar would do exactly as instructed and repeat the angel’s message to her son, “Although you are about dead from thirst and hunger, the angel of God spoke saying. . .”
In obedience to God’s leading and Word, His divine power knocks fear out of us; like having the breath knocked out of us. We are momentarily stunned and dazed; we are not really with it nor are we totally out of it. For a moment, our lives pass before us and we either exhale confidently that God’s got it or we hyperventilate with panic, trying to get a hold on it.
Hagar saw more than just the well of water. Yes, her eyes focused on the physical water to drink for their survival; but, her eyes were open to see the spiritual water that symbolized nourishment to strengthen her belief in God’s promise that Ishmael would be a great nation. Only from the place where Hagar lifted up the lad and held him in her hands could she see the well of water. Only on Mount Moriah, at the place where his arm was raised to slay Isaac, would Abraham see the ram in the thicket (Genesis 22).
Obedience has its privileges… Just obey, in all situations, at all times, for no other reason than because God said so.
PRAYER: Father, Today help me both hear and obey Your voice.