Have you ever thought your story is too messy to fit in the Bible?

Well let me assure you, it is not!  Today we are going to walk through an incredibly messy story in the Bible, but also a valuable one.  It is one I can relate to, and I’m thinking you might be able to relate to.  This is a story about strained relationships, emotional roller coasters and God showing up in the middle of the desert.

I LOVE THIS STORY.

Let’s jump into Genesis 16.  If you don’t have a Bible with you, click here to read Genesis 16.

Here we are introduced to Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant.  I don’t know the extent of their relationship, but I can imagine that at some point in Hagar’s time as Sarah’s maidservant, she heard Sarah talk about longing to be a mother.  She may have even known about the promise that God gave to Abram regarding the son.  Who knows…Hagar may have even held Sarah as she wept when another month’s cycle brought her the news that this wasn’t the month God was fulfilling His promise.

Again, the Bible isn’t clear on what Hagar did and didn’t know, but it is interesting to think about what their relationship might have looked like before this life changing day.

One day Sarah approaches Hagar and tells Hagar, “You are going to marry Abraham, and I will build my family through you.”

Let’s stop right here.  Can you imagine being Hagar?  What would you say?  How would you respond?

Your boss has told you over and over again about how much she wants a baby, and then one day she comes to you and says, “Hey, Hagar, God has closed my womb, but has promised my husband that he will be the father of a great nation…so…I have an idea…you marry him and have his children, and I’ll build my family through you!”

Would you be excited about that?  NOT ME!!!  No way!

Who wants someone to say, “Hey, marry my husband and have children for us!”

As we look at this story through Hagar’s eyes, I can on imagine the confusion and pain this moment caused.

This was a real woman who was forced to sleep with someone she didn’t choose.  My heart breaks for her, I know too many women with this reality for me to simply gloss over this fact.  This part of her story alone is cause for anger and resentment.  But her story doesn’t end here.

“When Hagar knew she was pregnant, Hagar began to despise her mistress.” {Genesis 16:4}

So what does she do? She runs away.

What would you do if you were in her shoes?  Would you run away?  I probably would.

Hagar, pregnant and alone, runs to the desert, and the angel of the Lord meets her there.

Interestingly, the angel doesn’t say, “I see your pain, and you have the right to run away.  Go ahead and run and God will heal your pain and provide for you and your baby.”

Instead, the angel says, “Go back.”

If you were Hagar, how would you respond to this?  Would you be mad at God?  Would you yell back at the angel?  What would you say?

I would probably say, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT IS GOING ON THERE?  THESE ARE CRAZY PEOPLE! I AM NOT RAISING MY SON THERE! AND I AM NOT GOING BACK!”

But Hagar doesn’t respond with anger.  Listen to how she responds in verse 13.

13 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.”

What tender words!

“You are the God who sees me.”

In the middle of her mess, God finds her in the desert and she is comforted knowing that God sees her. Let these words of truth wrap around your heart and comfort you soul.

Like my story and possibly yours, there isn’t a magic wand in Hagar’s story.  And that is why I LOVE this story.  There is no happily ever after from this point on. Instead, there is truth.

Hagar puts her trust in God and goes back.  But 14 years later we find her back in the desert.  Jump over to Genesis 21.  This time Hagar isn’t alone, and she hasn’t run away.  This time Hagar and her 14 year old son, Ishmael are thrown out of Sarah’s house.

We find them in the middle of the desert with no food or water.  Hagar tells her Ishmael to lie under a bush, then she turns her back to him because she can’t stand watch him die. And they both begin to cry.

Have you been there? You honestly don’t know how you are going to make it through another day.  You can’t imagine life getting any worse. You are empty.   Watch what happens next…

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

El Roi, the God who sees, sees her again in the desert and meets her there.  Here God promises to make Ishmael into a great nation, and then God does something interesting…

He gives them only what they need to survive: water.  There is no feast.  There is no party.  God simply meets their need. They continue to live in the desert, and Hagar finds a wife for Ishmael in Egypt. And that’s it.  That’s the last we hear of Hagar.

She didn’t get remarried to a wonderful Christian man who loved her in a way she’d never know.  Abraham didn’t run after her and say he’d made a mistake and he wants her back.  And her son wasn’t God’s chosen heir. I don’t emphasize these things to be discouraging.

I want you to know that if your story doesn’t end with happily ever after, it doesn’t mean you didn’t pray enough or trust God enough.  Instead it means God could use your story to impact the world.

Do you think when Hagar was under that bush waiting to die of dehydration that she thought that anyone would ever know her story?

Probably not.  But God uses this story of heartache to encourage me, comfort me and give me strength.

So as you ask yourself, “What can I learn from Hagar?” I have three truths for you to consider.

1. God sees you and your story.

2. God will meet you in your story.

3. God can use your story, especially if it doesn’t end with “happily ever after.”

Dear Friend, I don’t know where you are on your journey today, but if you are walking through the desert just waiting for God to show up, let me encourage you.  He is already there.

I’d love to hear in the comments:
1. How does Hagar’s story impact you?
2. How do you respond to the truth that God sees you in your messy story?
3. What jumped out at you most about Hagar’s story?

My passion is equipping women like you with the practical tools needed to embrace the unexpected chapters of life with grace and truth.  Each week my goal is to share truths with you that encourage you, strengthen you, and comfort you on your journey.

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