Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” (Genesis 16:9)
Abram followed the advice of his wife, Sarai, and slept with Hagar. She became pregnant. When Hagar realized this, she became very proud and began to feel that she was better than Sarai her owner. She, then, despised her owner, Sarai, with contempt.
Sarai thought that her problem of not having baby would be solved by letting her servant Hagar have a baby. It was not the case. She had never thought that Hagar would look down on her after getting pregnant with her husband’s baby. Yes, it was a good idea for Sarai to have Hagar to have her husband’s baby. This let her get rid of the enormous pressure of not having a baby for he husband, Abram.
How many times have we experienced that our good idea to resolve a life-long problem with our own hand and wisdom ended up a situation that is much worse than the initial situation that drags us down to many sleepless nights? We regretted of not being patient and waiting for God because we could not handle those messes that we introduced into our lives.
It is true that it is much difficult to say than we actually do. Waiting for God’s answer is always much harder than we think, because God is invisible. Especially, when we have been waiting and waiting for a long time, our patience is completely depleted. The waiting drains out our heart and mind. After our long waiting, there is no sign or hint that the God’s promise actually will come. Waiting itself becomes an unbearable burden and our struggle. We are fearful about dawning a new day, because our heart tells, “I am sure it will be another day that makes me disappointed because the promise will not come as it did yesterday, the before yesterday, and two days ago, so on. Additionally, one part of our heart starts shouting that there is a solution that really works. Why waiting? Just do. As Bible say, Sarah gave up, and Abram also did. They agreed to do what was logical for their eyes because they wanted a closure. Yes, waiting without any evidence (and with a sign that the opposite would come) is most daunting to any of us.
However, the battle was not over. A bigger battle was just started. Sarai had to endure Hagar, who looked down on Sarai, her owner. Sarai could not bear any more. Sarai came to Abram, and she blamed at her husband: “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who’s wrong—you or me!”(Genesis 16:5) What did Sarai say? She did not stop blaming Abram, but she used God to justify her and her innocence. To many of us, this sounds very familiar. Why? We all have done this before not just once, multiple times. We might still say to our heart that it was not my fault and God made me to it due to the uncontrollable situation. Transferring our guilt to others by blaming them is a sin. Additionally, sealing off our sinful behavior by introducing God is even more abominable. Sarai exposed one of the shameful parts in us.
What was the Abram’s response? Did Abram respond Godly to her loving wife, Sarai? No. Abram said to Sarai, “She is your slave. You can do anything you want to her.” (Genesis 16:6a) Abram’s answer was cold, first. He was Sarai’s husband, the head of the household before God, but he completely ignored all these. He was responsible to take care of Sarai simply because she was his wife, who was a weaker vessel before God. Instead his ears quickly picked up the blame voice coming from Sarai’s mouth. Then his heart was fixated on the blame rather than being a loving and caring husband in the time of suffering. Yes, he could have been more patient than responding with his stone-cold answer. For Abram’s point of view, he had been in a long suffering. Pressing down his frustration itself was so difficult that there was no room to deal with her criticism. He was already on the edge. Didn’t Abram know what was happening between Sarai and Hagar? No. It was one of the difficulties that Abram had to deal every day. Abram saw Hagar who mistreated Sarai, not just once, but day after day. His heart was heavy, Additionally, he started wondering about his baby is in the womb of Hagar, not Sarai. Every day his heart told to Abram that what he did was stupid, wrong and sinful. When Abram heard Sarai’s criticism, it directly went down to the center of his heart, and precisely pierced the source of all the pains that he suffered from. Every day, he regretted his stupid behavior, and he wanted to get out, but he could not. Abram had to transfer the frustrating burden to Sarai.
What, then, was Sarai’s response? Sarai treated Hagar harshly till Hagar ran away. Another typical behavior that we can find among ourselves. Sarai really wanted to get rid of Hagar. However, if she expelled Hagar, it would easily for her to be blamed. On the other hand, Hagar would get a sympathy from people. The best approach (according to human wisdom) is to make Hagar to choose to go out by her own decision, not by Sarai. Her plan was successful. Hagar finally left the Sarai’s house. Of course, God who saw the deepest part of our heart knew exactly what was going on between Sarai and Hagar. Yet, another sin was added to the household of Abram and Sarai.
Here is the pattern: one sin bored another sin, which led to yet another sin, and so on. Additionally, the chain of sins is usually getting intensified with an increasing degree of sinfulness. Abram and Sari followed this sinful pattern, which was sad. How can we get out of this pattern of vicious cycle of sinning? Once getting into this sinful pattern, it is very hard to get out. Thus, practically speaking, we cannot break the vicious cycle by our own might, determination and rationale, because such a sin (and most of sins) is emotionally twined with our pride in our heart. Only can the Holy Spirit help us to overcome this sinful temptation. Why? When we don’t know even how to pray (i.e, say) to God to get out of this sinful pattern of trap, the Holy Spirit in our heart intercedes us to God with inexpressible groaning. Only when start we hearing this voice, we can break the pattern, and we are able to relinquish our own control over to the Holy Spirit in our heart. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)
Hagar, who left the house of Abram and Sari, soon found that she was suddenly surrounded by wilderness. Even there was no drinking water, let alone food that she used to enjoy when she was at the house of Abram and Sari. She was thirsty, but she had no idea where to go to find water. What she saw was a dry and barren wilderness before her eyes. Her hate feeling on her master, Sarai, which was so intensive when she left the house. Now, it became a distant voice in her heart because she had to survive in the wilderness. Her mouth was dry. Each step of her was getting heavier, and her mind was overtaken by her thirstiness. Passing through this wilderness she might have not noticed, but her heart was getting cleansed by this harsh reality. God, who is always merciful, guided her footsteps to a spring of water in the middle of the wilderness. She was able to make her satisfied with the water of the spring. She sat down and looked up sky. Her face was filled with an empty look. She had no place to go. Her future was uncertain. She was quite. Her heart was no more filled with the anger and hatred because her heart was emptied.
Then the angle of God appeared to Hagar, and said “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” (Genesis 16:8) Did the angel not know where Hagar came from and where she were going? No, the angel exactly knew what was happening. Upon this question, Hagar answered, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sari.” Only she answered where she came from. She had nothing to say about where she was going because she had no place to go. The angel saw her heart that was ready, not like that at the moment she ran out of the house of Sarai. The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” (Genesis 16:9) She quietly listened to the angel of God, and did what was told to her. If this was told to Hagar even by the angel of God, first, she could have not been able to listen to this voice, and second, although she have had heard this voice, she would flat rejected. Her heart was filled with anger and hatred from her pride. God took out her pride and greed so that she was ready for God’s plan. She returned and bore a son. Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore (not Sarai), Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old.
The house of Abram was divided by the multitudes of sins of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar. Hagar despised Sarai, her owner. Sarai blamed at Abram using the name of God. Abram, who was too wrapped up his own problem, responded ungodly to his wife. Sarai harshly dealt with Hagar as a part of her plot of expelling Hagar from her own house. Hagar with full of rage left the house of Sarai, her owner. It was a dis-functioning household with full of hates. Nobody wanted to do good to bring back the family. God could not let them alone, but intervened their lives. Starting from Hagar, Sari, and Abram, God amended the broken relationship and brought back to one family. This is the love of God. We are one in His love, not because we are righteous, but we are simply His children. Although we are sinful (varying degrees by our own eyes, which often lead to our judgmental thought and behavior before God), God loves us.
God is love. … There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16b, 18-19)