The story of Hagar and her son, Ishmael, reads like a soap opera. She first shows up in chapter 16 as a servant of Sarai, who has realized she will not bear children. Sarai gives Hagar to Abram as a wife so that he can have offspring. Abram doesn’t want to do it, but the Lord convinces him to listen to Sarai. When Hagar finds herself pregnant, she begins to resent Sarai, who then blames Abram. Hagar tries to run away, but an angel shows up and tells her to return and submit to Sarai. The angel promises that the child she is carrying will be a ‘wild ass of a man’ and will find himself at odds with just about everyone, family included. She returns to Sarai’s service. And then we get to chapter 21.
Sarah, formerly Sarai, now bears a son and becomes jealous of Hagar and Ishmael, worried that they might steal her own son’s inheritance. She forces Abraham, formerly Abram, to send them off to starve in the desert. Hagar cries out in desperation as her son slowly dies, but the Lord hears her cries and saves them both. At every turn, Hagar does what is required of her, only to be treated with contempt and to be treated as if she were disposable. It all seems very unfair. And yet, every time she is about to give up hope, the Lord appears.
When you are going through difficulties that are no fault of your own, how do you respond? Does it feel like it’s enough to know that God is with you, even if nothing else changes? When you are feeling or have felt hopeless, what “well of water” has revived your faith in better days ahead?
Today, offer what seems like a hopeless situation to God and ask for the assurance of God’s presence and care.