I have always felt sorry for Hagar. She was a victim caught up in circumstances beyond her control. But as I’ve been studying her more in depth, I’ve found there’s a lot more to Hagar’s story than first meets the eye.
Hagar was Sarah’s Eqyptian slave, which means that from the moment we meet Hagar, she’s already experienced fear. Imagine being ripped apart from your family and sold into slavery then taken from the land you know to unknown territories. That was Hagar’s life before we meet her.
It appears, at first, that Hagar and Sarah had a good relationship. Sarah trusted her and had a certain respect for her. The problems with Sarah and Hagar erupted when Sarah got caught in her own fears, temporarily lost faith in God and felt the need to take matters into her own hands. Poor Hagar got caught in the crossfire. We can imagine what an awkward situation the two women found themselves in. This was not how God designed things to be.
Once she found out she was pregnant, I can see where Hagar might gloat a bit. She may have just been a servant girl, but she was a servant girl who was having a baby, and the father, was not any old man, it was Abraham!
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 the One who sees me.’Genesis 16:13
And Sarah, being a loving wife, was reasonably jealous. Again, in fear, she reacted by treating Hagar so harshly that Hagar fled in fear for her life. Fear often causes us to overreact in ways that we might not otherwise. Fear causes jealousy and anger and snowballs into more jealousy and anger. It consumes us, convincing us of untruths.
Fortunately for Hagar, God saw her fearful exit and met Hagar in the desert. Even though she was an Egyptian slave, and not a child of God, God loved her and cared about her enough to personally reach out to her and encourage her with a word of prophecy.
The Angel of the Lord told her to return to Sarah, which she did. Years later, she and her son found themselves in the desert again. And like before, God was there for them.
Hagar called God “the God who sees”. What a perfect reminder when we find ourselves huddling in the desert fearing for our lives. We may feel abandoned, forgotten, invisible, but God sees us and is there for us wherever we are.