Out of the Shadows

My Hope is in You, even when I feel invisible.
I will trust Your plan and set my eyes upon You!

Focus of the Month: Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Hope

So often we hear people talk about how life is full of surprises. Some bring joy and delight to our world and others take our breath away and leave us shattered, paralyzed or feeling invisible. I’ve experienced each of these scenarios in my own life. Situations I thought would destroy me, overtake me or defeat me. But one thing resonates as I grow in my faith – God uses the moments I deem too hard to show me that He is bigger and stronger and able.

Have you endured an experience so overwhelming you could not fathom victory in it? A time when you felt like God couldn’t see you? Didn’t show up? Wouldn’t answer you? Can I introduce you to a woman, named Hagar? She felt the weight of ridicule, even hatred, from someone whom she served; But God pulled her from the shadows and said, “I see you.”

Hagar, an Egyptian girl, was a slave to Abraham’s wife Sarah. God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child and a legacy…but 10 years pass and still no baby. Growing older, Sarah, seeks to help move plans along by telling Abraham to sleep with her slave in order to produce an heir.

And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.  And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. (Genesis 16:2-4a)

Hagar acted in obedience to her mistress as she was presented to Abraham. But as Hagar grew in her pregnancy she also grew in contempt toward her mistress. Sarah, became jealous, even though she was behind this plan, and began treating Hagar so cruelly that she fled into the desert. Scripture doesn’t give detail about the time Hagar spent alone in the desert, but we know she didn’t have provisions to sustain her through a pregnancy. What would become of her?

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.”  The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” (Genesis 16:7-10)

Hagar, called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing”. She knew the Lord had protected her, He had seen her misery and He would be with her. She obeyed and returned to her mistress and bore Abraham’s son. She called him Ishmael, the name the angel of Lord had given her.

I would love to say it was smooth sailing for Hagar from here but that was not the case. Sarah, conceived a son, just as the Lord had promised. His name was Isaac. And when Isaac was old enough to be weaned more troubles ensued. There was discourse between the two brothers and because of this, Sarah demanded Abraham get rid of Hagar and her son. It displeased Abraham to do this but scripture says that God reassured him:

But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.  And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. (Genesis 21:12-14)

It seems all would be lost as Hagar was sent away. I can only imagine the rejection she may have felt. The betrayal of those she served obediently. She was alone. Invisible. But God…

Her provisions ran out and she became desperate. Not knowing what to do, she put Ishmael under a bush for shade and then began to walk away so she would not watch him die. And as she cried, the Lord answered. He was sufficient. He gave Hagar hope and a promise that her son would be made into a great nation. After God spoke to her, she opened her eyes and saw a well of water that was hidden from her in her grief.

Our God is the God who sees. He sees our sorrow, our joy, our despair and our needs. He comforts us, guides us and protects us. Are we seeking Him? Are we opening our eyes to the promises He gives us? Hagar was obedient to the Lord, to her mistress and her master…yet she still had trials. God saw her, in the midst, and pulled her out of despair. And He will do the same for you. He sees you. He knows you. Set your gaze upon Him.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Genesis 16:2-4a; Genesis 16:5-13; Genesis 21:8-21


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