Summary: In the midst of her pain and despair, God intervened for Hagar. In her experience she got a personal revelation of God as the One who Sees. This is a good reminder for anyone who feels abandoned and forgotten by God.
The God Who Sees
As some of you know, I conduct mediations for people who are in conflict. Wherever you find people you find conflict. Have you noticed that? Some of the mediations I conduct are for family conflict. It’s amazing the messes people get themselves into. Sometimes the husband or wife has had an affair. Years of relationship get destroyed like a hurricane hitting New Orleans. The trust that was built up over ten or fifteen years is swept away by a foolish indulgence. At other times I am talking to couples my age who have slowly lost contact with the other person. Years of inconsiderate behavior have eaten away the marriage like termites destroying a home. There they sit in a room hardly able to speak to one another. And where will they go from there? Those are sad encounters. I recently conducted mediation for a very young couple in their 20s. They have a child in common. The father is now living with another woman who has several children. The mother is less than 25 years old and has three children by three different men. Can you imagine the complexity of problems in this young woman’s life? As I talked with her, I thought there is only one answer for you. You need God. In the secular context I was in, I could not address the problem that directly. I began asking her if she had an emotional support system. I began probing into her background looking for something to get a hold on. As the conversation continued, she shared how she had grown up in church. So I pointed her in that direction and encouraged to go back to the church of her youth. It was a sound church.
Does God have an answer for that young lady? Absolutely, He is the answer.
Today we want to look at a sticky family conflict. The man has conceived a child with a woman and I’m not talking about his wife. The pregnant woman is feeling used and abused. There is a lot of pain going on in the family.
Turn with me to Gen. 16:1-6.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, ‘The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.’
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me." 6 ‘Your servant is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.”
This marks the beginning of the family problem.
I. Abraham and Sarah are making a big mistake.
Most of you know some of the background behind this story. God has promised Abraham and Sarah a son. I can imagine that when that word first came to them they were elated. Here’s the word God gave Abraham. Gen 12:2-3 "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." What an awesome promise! Their greatest pain was the barrenness. God was going to take care of that problem and them much, much more. Have you ever had God speak a promise to you and for weeks you’re walking on air in the excitement of it? I’m sure Abraham and Sarah were quite excited when God spoke that promise to them.
Now here’s the downer. Ten years later, it hasn’t happened. Abraham is 85 years old. Instead of the circumstances getting better, they get worse every year. The likelihood of conception is getting less, not more, with every year that passes. By the time our text opens in Genesis 16 we’ve got a couple of pretty discouraged pilgrims. I can see Abraham and Sarah trying to figure out what’s going on. Did we or did we not hear the Lord? Abraham had the advantage of actually receiving the revelation. So Sarah has to rely upon his account of what the Lord said.
One of the greatest tests of our faith comes when God says trust Me; we do that for awhile; but circumstances seem to get worse instead of better. I’ve got some of that going on in my life right now. When you’re going through it (as some of you very well know) it’s much different that just theorizing about it. There was tremendous pressure on Sarah to make something happen—address the problem—don’t play like it’s not there. Are you with me? So Sarah works up a plan. Abraham’s faith is wobbly as well and he goes along with the idea.