It is easy to read stories like these and get frustrated when righteous people keep messing up. But when we sin, it is much easier for us to make excuses. Why didn’t they learn from their past mistakes? My situation was different. I had a lot going on and didn’t know any better. But, we do know better. Why do we sin time and time again when we know it is wrong? The world tells us it is alright.
In Genesis 15, Abram was reminded again by God of His promise to provide Abram many descendants. Sarai knew of this covenant, but after ten years of living in the land that was still not their own, perhaps Sarai thought she could help God out… make things go a bit quicker, more efficiently… take things into her own hands… sound familiar? The world offers us solutions, but many times they are not God’s solutions. Hagar, who was most likely a maidservant they got through their time in Egypt, would be considered a “surrogate mother” at this time. So the child would still be considered Abram and Sarai’s. But even though this method was acceptable in those days, it doesn’t mean this method was right and part of God’s plan. All of these actions were carried out without seeking counsel from God.
When we try to rush God’s promises, sometimes we end up delaying their fulfillment. Abram and Sarai had to wait another 13 years before bearing their first child. In Exodus 2, Moses murdered an Egyptian, thinking it was helping God’s plan out by saving the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt. But this wasn’t God’s timing. Moses had to tend sheep for 40 years in the desert before God’s promise to him was fulfilled.
Often times passionate guilt and grief follow us. Sarai is thus despised by Hagar, which triggers heavy emotions. Bearing this honor was difficult for Hagar. Since she was able to bear Abram’s children, she couldn’t resist boasting and carrying herself as though she was above Sarai (Proverbs 29:21). Sarai blamed Abram for the entire situation, as he should’ve acted as a spiritual leader and reiterated God’s promise. We too seek to blame others when we should bear the fault; pride, passion, and anger often time overwhelm us when our own choices without God lead to further struggles. Instead, we should suffer from our own faults patiently.
“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” – 1 Peter 2:20
We know what is right, but we choose to do wrongs in rebellion because of what the world provides as alternatives. In turn, Abram turns Hagar over to Sarai, perhaps making things more difficult, but putting his own wife first. Making decisions on our own and rushing God oftentimes makes circumstances worse and more complicated.
After Hagar fled, an Angel of the Lord appeared to her. Hagar may have been on her way to her home country, as Shur was on the way to Egypt. God’s mercy is shown here. Hagar had suffered and become weary in the wilderness. She has had time to think about her sins. This is God’s timing (Hosea 2:14). The Angel of the Lord calls her “Sarai’s maid” to remind her of who she is, checking her pride (v.7). She has a duty to Sarai and must humble herself. Imagine the difficulty in going back. But God provided Hagar assurance. He hears our cries of suffering, even though sometimes we have little devotion towards Him.
“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” – Psalm 10:17
God’s promise to Hagar was many descendants through her son Ishmael, which means “God hears.” (God is very clever). What an amazing promise to a woman who was a maid from Egypt. Ishmael would still have a difficult life, but God will still bless him and strengthen him. Hagar had faith, and knew that God would provide this same protection for her when she returned to Sarai.
Avoid worldly shortcuts. Patiently suffer from wrongdoings. Do not run away from problems. Trust in God’s promises.