Guiding Scripture: Genesis 16:13 – “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[a] the One who sees me.’”

  • Hidden in the pages of Genesis, in-between a well-told narrative about the faith of Abraham and Sarah, lies the story of an Egyptian slave named Hagar. We don’t know much about her aside from her connection to Abraham and Sarah, and she is often used as a cautionary tale about what happens when you try to get ahead of God’s timing. However, the reality is that Hagar’s story is far more complex, and we’ll be exploring some of those complexities today. 
  • Hagar was a victim of circumstances outside of her control.
    • She was an enslaved Egyptian woman who was forced to sleep with Abraham so she could conceive a son for Sarah (Genesis 16:1-3).
    • We know Hagar wasn’t happy about this because she hated Sarah after she got pregnant (Genesis 16:4).
  • Hagar’s story shows how others can be hurt by our disobedience
    • Sarah mistreated Hagar after she got pregnant by Abraham, so much so that Hagar ran away from her (Genesis 16:6).
    • Years later, after Sarah had given birth to Isaac and saw Ishmael mocking him, she demanded that both Hagar and Ishmael be sent away into the desert (Genesis 21:9-10).
    • Some Biblical scholars suggest that since Hagar was Egyptian, she may have been one of the slaves given to Abraham after his time in Egypt (Genesis 12:16)—when he lied about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife. In other words, Hagar might not have even been available for Abraham to sleep with if he hadn’t deceived Pharaoh in Egypt.
  • God saw Hagar and cared about her when others didn’t.
    • The Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar, signifying her importance to Him (Genesis 16:7).
    • Although God tells Hagar to go back to Sarah, he never rebukes or shames her for her situation. In fact, he blesses her and gives her son the name Ishmael, which means “God hears” (Genesis 16:9-11).
  • God can and does use our brokenness for His glorious purposes.
    • When Joseph is sold as a slave by his brothers several generations later, the men who purchase him are Ishmaelities, the descendants of Ishmael (Genesis 37:28). 

Action Step: Consider the moments in your life when you’ve felt like an outsider. Did you ever feel like God didn’t know about your struggles, or even worse—didn’t care about them? Take some time in prayer today to talk with God about those moments and ask Him to heal you from that pain. Also, consider getting Christian-based counseling to help you process that rejection in a healthy way.