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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hagar despised slave & the LORD who sees and cares (1)

El-Roi .. The Lord GOD who sees me .......

Do you ever feel unloved, unnoticed, unwanted? A victim of circumstances? Of birth? Of misfortune? Do things look like they might just be about to get better then they come crashing down around your ears again? Do you ever think that GOD might care about other people but He either thinks you are a 2nd class citizen deserving only '2nd class love' or quite frankly, He really does not care about you either.

Hagar must have had all these thoughts. Young and beautiful, she was given as a maid servant to Abraham and Sarah. For a slave, it probably didn't seem like too bad a gig - she was Sarah's personal hand-maiden so was probably spared the hard manual labour of other servants- her job was to wait upon and take care of her mistress. After her life in Egypt with its numerous gods for every circumstance, maybe she sometimes wondered at their strange belief in a one invisible GOD but they were kind enough masters- so live and let live eh? She more than anyone else was privy to her mistress's abiding sorrow at being childless. Did Hagar ever wonder why Abraham simply didn't take another wife? All men wanted sons to carry on their names and as strong and vital as he was, he was already over 80 - the chap clearly wasn't getting any younger.

Then one day, her life changed forever. Sarah burst in on her, ordered a bath for her, perfumed her, dressed her in fine clothing and thrust her into Abraham's bed! Hagar had become Sarah's tool in the 'i-must-have--a-baby' saga. Neither slave nor servants got much say, so Hagar's fate was sealed. The combination of vigour and beautiful youthful female did the trick and Hagar got pregnant rapidly. Soon Abraham was strutting around the camp like a bull in clover. Hagar must have felt a thrill of power. She had done something her mistress hadn't. Sure Sarah might be rich and beautiful, beautiful enough to still be be wooed by Pharaoh when she was in her 70's, she might have a husband who loved her, but she Hagar had something Sarah wanted desperately. It was she Hagar who had restored Abraham's manly reputation and vigour. Slowly her manner changed. She was no longer meek and timid, her feet dragged reluctant to obey when Sarah called her, and now Hagar looked upon Sarah in scorn. Hey, she wasn't even good enough to have a child. What was the point of BARREN beauty? Maybe if she, Hagar, gave Abraham a son, he would make her his concubine, as a lesser wife she would have rights and soon, she might even push Sarah out of favour.

Sadly for Hagar, before her fantasy could bear fruit, Sarah got fed up of Hagar's insolent looks and demeanour, complained bitterly to Abraham who did the typical guy thing of ducking trouble and told Sarah that Hagar was her property and she could do with her as she please. Suddenly, pregnant vulnerable Hagar was left to Sarah's not-so-tender mercies!!! There she was pregnant with the master's baby and yet he abandoned her to his jealous wife.
One month of Sarah's appalling cruel treatment and Hagar cracked. She couldn't take it any longer. Wrapping her pathetic little belongings in a cloth, she decided to flee back to Egypt. The cruelty must have been intense to make her brave this dangerous journey by herself. A few miles into the burning sands and even more burning Sun and the hitherto pampered slave-girl was struggling. Weary, dust-stained, hungry, tired and weeping, she was refreshing herself beside a desert spring when she heard a voice. To her shock, the stranger who stopped by her, knew exactly who she was. Calling her by name, he asked her where she had come from and where she was going.

"Hagar, Sarah's servant, where have you come from and where are you going?"
"I am fleeing my mistress."
'Return and submit to her authority' ..
Hagar gaped in shock and shrank back. This wasn't what she wanted to hear. Did he know the onerous task s Sarah made her carry out? How she kept her on her feet for hours, how she abused and terrified her? If it wasn't for the fear of making her miscarry, she knew her mistress would also have beaten her. Go back to that? No way, she would rather die in the desert!
But the Angel continued. 'God will give you more descendants than you can count. You will give birth to a son. Name him Ishmael for the Lord has heard about your misery. This son of yours will be a strong character, rebellious and wild like an untamed donkey, fierce and strong. He will go his own way and live at odds with his brothers.'

Now it might be hard for many of us to understand what this encounter must have meant to Hagar. Imagine owning the rights to nothing, not even your own body or thoughts, being owned by another, casually used as a pawn, nothing but a womb to be used solely for the benefit of others - owned, abused, ill-treated. But in the middle of this utterly hopeless existence with no way out, this slave-girl who thought no-one on earth loved or cared about her, suddenly had Almighty GOD pick her out personally and speak directly to her. He gave her a promise - she would have a son. Her son would survive into adulthood. Her son would grow up healthy and strong, fierce and rebellious - he would not have the broken down mentality of a slave but the independent fierce strength of a free man. He would be a harsh man forged by the hardness of the desert land that he would inhabit.

Hagar gave GOD a name that day. It might seem like an insignificant thing to many of us, but she I believe, is the only woman in the Bible who ever gave GOD a name. She called GOD 'El-Roi', The GOD who sees me. Hagar said poignantly, 'I have seen the One who sees me.'

GOD sees and HE cares. Hagar found the One who notices and loves even the most seemingly insignificant of us in the eyes of men. He stepped in, comforted her and gave her a promise she could hold unto even through the dark days of going back to her mistress. Her existence was going to be worthwhile. She might be a slave but her son would be free. She would have numerous descendants - GOD knew her name!!!

Hagar returned to Sarah as instructed by GOD and did have a son as promised. Abraham listened to her story, knew she had met the very same GOD who had called him, and despite slaves having no rights over even their own names, let alone being allowed to name their children, Abraham named their son Ishmael even as GOD had told Hagar.

Hagar's GOD, the GOD of a seemingly insignificant slave-girl continues to see today - to as many as hurt, He is the One who sees your afflictions, who sees your pain, who sees your ill-treatment, who sees your barrenness, who sees the bills that cannot be paid, who sees your unemployed status, who sees your drug addiction, who sees your ill-health, who sees how you are despised and bullied, who sees your rebellious children who are breaking your heart, who sees you are about to lose your home because you can't pay the mortgage, who sees your heartbreak at being cheated upon, who sees your marriage that is violent and abusive, who sees your sorrow at being single, who sees you are second-best, broken into pieces, rejected, unwanted, discarded, cheated, abused, raped, beaten etc

GOD sees and cares. Today, He makes you a promise - Come unto ME all you who are weary and heavy-laden, collapsing under your burdens and suffering, Come to ME and I will give you rest. Come to ME and I will give you a promise for your life - I will show you the reason you have been created. I will reveal to you the purpose for your existence and above all, I will make you whole. I will shower you with love and affection, give you the free gift of salvation, give you peace that cannot ever be taken away, draw you into a relationship with me.

Often we ask, well if GOD really does care, why doesn't He wave a magic wand and make my situation all right. That's a question to look at in part 2 of this write-up but do you have any thoughts about why He simply doesn't? Drop me a comment and let's explore it together.


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