Letters From L
She felt so alone. She lay under the bush, crying, weak from hunger, exhaustion, fear and grief. She thought about how she had gotten into this predicament.
She had agreed to be a surrogate mother, and at first things had gone so well. She had lived with the family, and everyone had rejoiced when her pregnancy had become obvious. But the wife had become jealous of the attention her husband gave. One misunderstanding led to another. She had turned to the husband for help, only to discover he didn't love her the way she thought.
Last night, everything had gone wrong. The wife struck her in anger, then lost control, hitting her repeatedly. In fear for her life and her baby, she had run away in tears.
At first she had planned to return to her home. Today that seemed impossible. The weight of the baby in her belly slowed her down more than she expected. She had no money, no food or water, no transportation, and no way to contact her family. In her pregnancy she felt vulnerable and unable to defend herself, so she avoided all contact with people.
She was exhausted by the time she found a spring to drink from and fill her bottle. She crawled under the shade of a bush since there were no trees. She had cried so much she felt too tired to cry any more. She tried to think of a way out of this predicament. She didn't trust strangers to help her. Home was too far away, she would die before she reached it. Could she go back? The memory of the beating she received the night before brought fresh tears to her eyes.
"I'm going to die here." she thought. " My baby and I are going to die and no one will care."
Hot tears fell as she thought of the nights with the baby's father until they were sure she had conceived. She had thought he loved her instead of his wife, only to discover his attentions and love were for the baby she carried. She'd been a fool to think otherwise, and now she'd been kicked out. Now she would die for her foolishness. Gradually her weeping stopped and she fell asleep.
She awoke to the sound of her name being called.
"Hagar! Hagar, servant of Sarai. What are you doing here?"
She looked up and saw- saw who? It was no normal man. She felt he could look straight through her. There would be no lying to this man. Her fearful mind thought of Abram's powerful God- was this his messenger?
'I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai." she began. She opened her mouth to explain and tell her tale of woe, but paused as he looked at her. She thought of how she had treated Sarai, the pride, disrespect and disobedience. No wonder Sarai had beat her. With a sudden clarity of insight, Hagar saw she had caused the whole problem herself.
"Return to your mistress and submit to her."
A hundred excuses came to Sarai's mind, but they died before they reached her lips. This man knew her. And He was right. If she submitted to Sarai, they would forgive her. They would be thrilled to have the baby back. By now she was convinced this was a messenger from Abram's God- an Angel
The messenger was speaking again , "I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son. And thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because Jehovah hath heard thy affliction. And he shall be as a wild ass among men. His hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell over against all his brethren. "
His words filled her head wit a roaring. He spoke as if he alone had the power to do these things. It was as if once spoken, the words made it inevitable. Blessing and sorrow -Her son would be father to many, but get along with none. The knowledge was overwhelming. Was there anything, past or future that this man/angel/God couldn't see. He'd seen her need, how she caused it, the solution, and the future of her and her son. Surely she had seen God.
And she called Him Jehovah Roi, saying, "You are a God that sees. And in her heart she said, "Have I even here looked upon him that sees me?"
Peace filled her heart as she started home to make amends to her mistress.
There are very few women mentioned in the Bible, and even fewer who are visited by an angel of God, or (as many believe) an epiphany (pre-incarnate manifestation) of Christ. Therefore, it is a good idea to take a good look at Hagar and see why God left us these details of her life and what the Holy Spirit will tell us through her life.
The whole story is told in Genesis 16 and 21. A mere 28 verses, but filled with meaning.
Hagar is from Egypt. It wouldn't be out of line to think she was probably acquired when they were in Egypt and the Pharaoh fell in love with Sarai. That would mean that Hagar was a handmaiden from the royal court. Advancement opportunities for female slaves were extremely limited. She could be sold to a richer master or taken as a master's concubine. Being given to Sarai may have seemed wonderful at first. But they quickly moved from the royal court to the distant country. This would be like moving from the Palace to the backwoods of Arkansas or another isolated area. The locals would seem like hicks and beneath her. No more fresh gossip on the who's who list. No dainties and fine fabrics, no parties or luncheons. And no other masters rich enough to buy her if things didn't work out. It is likely the women became good friends, and often talked over Sarai's barrenness. It was a common practice for a servant to bear her mistresses children, And Sarai must have trusted Hagar a great deal or been extremely desperate to suggest it.
What was uncommon was Abram's total devotion to a barren woman.
Once Hagar conceived, she probably expected to be elevated to a favored concubine status, and maybe given a handmaid of her own. The idea that this was a one child deal probably never entered her head. In that culture, the more sons the better. She ended up reacting in the worst way possible, looking down on Sarai for her failure and flaunting her own success. Sarai defended her marriage viciously, and Hagar ran away.
So far we see Hagar displaying pride, rebellion, and finally fear.
Some Bible teachers believe that Hagar was the victim of Abram and Sarai trying to fulfill God's promise to them. Though that was the motive behind their actions, the situation of surrogate motherhood was common enough in that day, and it probably turned a lot of marriages upside down.
Why did God hear Hagar's affliction? Why did her heartbreak move him? She wasn't a person we would call holy. She was a common runaway slave. She caused her own problems and was only getting what she deserved. And the child she was carrying would father nations (Arabs) that would persecute God's chosen people until the end of time.
Why did God hear her? Because he loved her. Because while she was still dead in her trespasses, he had mercy on her and granted her life in him. For the exact same reason he hears us.
Once she knew the will of God, Hagar immediately and without hesitation or argument obeyed. As a result of her continued obedience, she and her son lived under Abram's protection for 19 years before trouble started again. When your ways please the Lord, he makes even your enemies to be at peace with you.
Last time we looked at who Hagar was. The joy is - she really wasn't all that different from us. She was a woman who got herself in a mess she had no answer for, and God gave her the answer. Then she obeyed. No arguments, no excuses, she simply and completely obeyed.
"That is all very well for Hagar," one might be tempted to think "After all, God spoke to her directly. His voice was clear with no confusion or doubt about it. If God said it to me that way, I'd obey, too. That is what I thought for a while. Then God showed me that I had some advantages over Hagar. She only heard God twice in her life. I have the Bible every day, with God's will clearly spelled out, plus the Holy Spirit to help me understand and obey. And I had to ask myself, "Do I have the heart to obey that Hagar had?"
The Bible tells me to submit to my husband. I find I want to say that I'll submit when he makes godly or wise decisions. But it is clearly written, "submit." It doesn't say, "Submit when he is right," or "Submit when he is making godly choices," or even "Submit unless the risk is too great." Clearly, God's will is for me to submit (except to sin) in all situations. Some decisions my husband makes may cause financial problems, or inconveniences. But I am to trust God with the consequences and obey.
Another clear command is not to be unequally yoked - to marry only a believer. Again, it doesn't say to marry only a believer unless this man respects your faith, or marry only a believer unless there are no single believers in your church, or marry only a believer unless he agrees to let you worship where you please. It states simply "Be not unequally yoked." Of course, God knows that we are all little rebellious Hagars at heart, so if we find ourselves in disobedience and married to a non-believer, we must suffer the consequences, but God has hope for us. So read I Peter 3:1, and remember, when it says without a word being spoken, it means without a word. No tricking him into talking to the pastor, or tracts at the table. It is the purity and integrity of your life that must convince him. I say from experience that it takes years. And truly, there is no pain like loving someone who you know is bound for hell unless things change and being helpless to change them. But God does give us hope when we've made a mistake.
Let's get back to Hagar. Submitting to Sarai after having been so rebellious must have been difficult. It is unlikely Sarai trusted this new submissive attitude. When someone has wronged us, then comes back with a sweet submissive attitude, it is only natural to look for the catch. It would not be surprising if Sarai watched her closely, suspecting an ulterior motive. Was Sarai extra difficult, testing Hagar's sincerity? If Sarai tested Hagar, we know her obedience proved sincere. There is no further mention of trouble between them. When the trouble does start again, it is Hagar's son who starts it.
Abraham obeyed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
Hagar obeyed God, and when trouble came 20 years later, we see God once again speaking to her and showing her the answer.
God spoke to Hagar twice.
We have the word of God available daily.
Hagar obeyed God without argument, delay or excuse.
If you cannot answer yes, take heart. God has an answer for weak rebellious people like us.
God knew his people would disobey.
His answer- Admit God is right when he says what you are doing is wrong (Confess), Stop disobeying (Repent) and start obeying. Make no excuses, root out all self-pity, forgive your enemies, and obey.
Read your Bible so you know what to obey.
Jesus said "If you love me, obey my commandments." Does that mean that when we don't obey we are saying we don't love him?
These are a sample of the kind of Bible Studies I write. For these, I was given the phrase the God who sees, and the name of the Bible character to use.
If you like these studies and would like me to custom write some for your women's group, email me at