Today begins the third week of WOBS and we will be looking at Hagar, whose name means “fugitive” or “immigrant”. Let’s begin this study by reading Genesis 16; 21:8-21 and Galatians 4:22-31.
Here is the link to our book for Monday’s reading assignment in this study…
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. Genesis 21:15-21
I find hope in the verses above, the Lord heard the cries of both Hagar and Ishmael and He provided for their immediate needs and more. He promised to take care of them in the future. I think verse 20 has to be my favorite…”And God was with the boy, and he grew up.”
I believe, in the story of Abraham wives, that Hagar has always been the more sympathetic wife. Hagar was living in captivity, and had to do what her owner, Sarah, told her to do. And because of her position in Abraham’s home, she became a sex slave. Sarah did not believe that God’s promise of establishing a nation through Abraham’s heirs would happen through her, so she commanded Abraham to sleep with Hagar.
The scripture says that Sarah wanted her children to come through Hagar, and yet, Sarah did not take Ishmael to raise as her own. I believe it has to do with the fact that Sarah really did not believe that Hagar would conceive Abraham’s child and when Hagar did…she looked at Sarah with contempt…which did not sit well with Sarah. Plus, I don’t believe that Sara had really thought carefully about her plan, it was one of those situations of “be careful what you wish for….!”
I look at the story between Sarah and Hagar as a cautionary tale, we should move forward only under the direction of God and through His will for our lives. We should not orchestrate our own version of God’s promises to us. He is the composer of our symphony and we should step back and let Him be the conductor too. Even if the notes are discordant and hard for us to take…He will take that harsh arrangement and make a beautiful melody out of it.
The first thing you need to do is click on the link above to read today’s assignment in our study.
I loved the last paragraph in today’s reading;
“Many women today are in a position similar to Hagar’s. They may not be actual slaves, but they are in positions of weakness, with no one to defend them. No one except God. The same God who defended Hagar and heard the cries of her son in the desert hears the cries of helpless women and their children today. When we are at our weakest, God is at his best, ready to step in and say to us as he said to Hagar, “Do not be afraid” (Genesis 21:17).”
God does hear the fervent cries of children and their mothers. He hears and He will act on those prayers, in His time and in a manner that is best suited for each individual.
There have been many times over the past 5 years when I have cried out to God and asked for Him to intercede on behalf of one of my loved ones, and He did. There were times when I questioned His timeliness and the methods God used, but in hindsight, how He worked in our lives was perfect for me and for my loved ones.
The other thing that I think we can learn from this situation with Hagar, is to place our focus on God ~ the problem solver, rather than on the problem. Hagar lifted up her voice and God had mercy on her and Ishmael…He solved the problem that they were facing. We just need to lift up our voices too, and God will solve our problem.
Read Genesis 16:1 – 16.
1. Sarah’s proposition was a customary one of that day. When she asked Hagar to be a surrogate mother, what do you think Hagar’s reactions might have been?
Since Sarah’s proposition was customary, I don’t believe Hagar was shocked at Sarah’s request. Hagar may have thought that this would improve her standings within Abraham’s household. She would be considered Abraham’s wife and if she conceived a child, she might find herself favored over Sarah.
2. How do you respond to situations over which you have no control? How can God help you when you are in such a position?
My nature is not to submit easily. Especially, when I feel that someone else has more control in a situation where I feel my desires should have a higher priority. I am specifically thinking of my marriage…where there have been times that my husband listened to his father or family about something that, I felt, was between us and our marriage. I can see, now, that God was using those situations to show me that I won’t always get what I want. He was training me to give control over my life to someone else….Him. God helps me by stepping into the situation and giving me peace in the moment, and it is a good reminder that ultimately He is in control over my life.
3. Hagar ran away to a barren and sparsely populated area. Have you ever been that desperate? If so, what were the circumstances?
I have been that desperate in my life and, at the time, I was living a life that was far from God. God used my desperation to bring me back to Him. There were some problems within my family that knocked my support system out from under me. I was distraught and lost and probably at the lowest point in my life…I was driving down the road, crying and I kept saying over and over again, “I am all alone…I am all along…I am all alone.” When I heard, “You are not alone, I am here.” God met me in my desperation and reminded me of what I already knew…He was with me and He would see me through. That was five years ago and even though, at the time, I thought that 2009 was the worst year in my life…I now see it as the greatest blessing in my life. God used my family mess to give me a message.
4. What impressions of God do you get from this story?
That God sees everything we are going through, even when we don’t feel His presence, and He will use it to make us better, if we just step back and let Him.
Read Genesis 21:8 – 21.
5. How is this incident like the previous one? How is it different?
6. Are you or do you know someone who is in a desperate situation right now? Read Genesis 21:19 again. Might there be a “well” for sustenance, if only you could see it? Pray, asking God to open your eyes just as he opened Hagar’s and aided her in her desperation.