Welcome to our third week looking at the character of Hagar. Last week Naomi helped us to understand the first part of this story by looking at what made Hagar flee from Abram and Sarai (catch up here!). This week we turned our attention to a conversation between the angel of the Lord and Hagar. Our meditation verse was:
““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
A shock visitor
I am pretty sure that when Hagar fled into the desert, she didn’t expect anyone to find her. This was a girl who has been “ill-treated” by her mistress and was running away from whatever that treatment was. Clearly the desert isn’t a great option (its pretty hot I hear!), but in Hagar’s head at the time it was the lesser of two evils. When I stepped into her shoes I could understand that need for space, for time to think and decide her next steps, for just wanting some physical distance between herself and the bad things that were happening. I’ve often decided to take a walk when things have gotten too stressful for me, and do find that just by actively moving away from the environment that is stressing me out I feel a bit better.
But whilst Hagar was out in desert, she stopped for a drink and a shock visitor arrived – the angel of the Lord (there is no clarity on who this is, but agreement that they speak with the words of God and could possibly be a pre-incarnate version of Jesus). There is a bit of a conversation between them, and to be fair Hagar seems to hold the conversation well given that a heavenly being is in front of her!! She listens to all that he has to say and then he goes, leaving her along with her thoughts in the desert
Hagar’s head must have been spinning at this point in the story! But I love that this is where our meditation verse comes in – her overriding thought after that conversation was “God sees me”. Wow! The most important thing to her was that she was seen, acknowledged and given time in God’s diary. Hagar was not invisible.
And I think that is something that so many of us crave today, isn’t it?? Just to be seen. Just to be acknowledged. Perhaps we even doubt that we feature at all in God’s diary or list of cares. But if God cares about Hagar, a slave girl who was a foreigner and rejected really by the ones who were top of God’s list at the time (Abram and Sarai), then surely he cares about you also?
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes when I read the Old Testament I feel like Hagar – a bit of an outsider. The whole story of the Old Testament is about this chosen people, the Israelites, and how much God loves them and wants them to have a nice land. It seems like he would do anything for them. And then there’s me. A gentile (AKA NOT and Israelite!). An outsider. I kind of feel like an intruder, trying to muscle my way in on Israel’s blessings, and not really wanted. But if this story of Hagar teaches us nothing it is that God sees and loves the outsiders. It was always in his plan to include us in his blessing, and in this story he doesn’t want Hagar to feel like she doesn’t belong either. He meets with her, encourages her and confirms that its OK for her to go back. He allows her to be there with Abram and Sarai – He tells her that she is not unwanted but welcome in the family of God. And armed with that knowledge she is able to return home.
He sees me
I have loved having the words of this verse echoing in my head and my heart this week. Whatever the little things have been that have troubled me, I have just thought “He sees me” and I have instantly felt better. Our God is personal and close – He sees our troubles and He cares about them. So remember this week that you are not alone, you are not invisible and you are welcome.
We jump ahead now in the story of Hagar to after Ishmael, her son is born. Naomi will be taking us through this section of the story, and we will be meditating on this verse:
“Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy dies”. And as she sat there, she began to sob.” Genesis 21:16
Do join us over in our Facebook group as we discuss this over the week, and you will also have access to some free resources.