I have read the Bible for many years now. In it I find many interesting stories. Some of the stories are amazing and a bit unusual. Those who say the Bible is a boring book to read are not reading the same Bible I am reading. Some of the stories I read in the Bible make me stop, ponder and ask, “why is this story included”? Out of these stories, I find interesting principles that I have built into my life.

One of these stories begins in Genesis 12. Abraham and his entourage have just arrived in Canaan from the east. There is a famine in the land, so he takes his clan further south, into Egypt. There, he claims his wife is his sister because of her beauty and he fears she will be taken from him. She is taken, in spite his claims and ends up in Pharaoh’s house. The deception is found out by the Pharaoh himself, and Abrahams’s wife is restored. The Pharaoh also gives him donkeys, camels, and male and female servants. One of the females among the male and female servants given to Abraham was a servant girl of Pharaoh called “Hagar”. She becomes a person of interest. This “servant girl from Egypt” joins Abraham’s clan and returns with him to Canaan. She becomes a person that deserves a second look. I have two books in my library, written by Jewish women, on this servant girl who becomes a “handmaiden to Sarah”. It is interesting to me where and how I find the activity of God.

Abraham had been promised by God, that he was to have son. This son was not only to inherent all of Abrahams physical goods, but was to be heir of the promise made by God that all nations of the earth would be blessed through this son. There was one problem; Abraham was approaching 100 years old, and his wife was near 90! It is Sarah who comes up with a solution to this dilemma. She suggests that Hagar, this Egyptian servant, take her place in the bedroom in producing this child. Abraham willingly agrees. Hagar becomes with child, from Abraham, and there is now an Egyptian servant girl in the camp who is carrying Abraham’s child. This gets Sarah’s attention. She tells Abraham that she will not tolerate this situation and demands that Hagar leave. Hagar cannot stand the tension, so she flees from Abraham’s camp. “The angel of the Lord” finds this destitute pregnant servant girl out in the desert. The angel asks Hagar a very interesting question. “Where have you come from and where are you going?” [as if He did not know]. Hagar says, “I’m fleeing from Sarah”. The Angel says, “Return to your mistress and submit to her”. In addition, the angel tells her she will have a son [no ultrasound] and describes the type of man her son will be, even giving him his name, “Ishmael”. She returns to Abraham’s camp and nothing is said. It is so interesting to me that after the message from God to this salve girl, to listen to her response. “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, thou art a God who sees”, for she said, ‘have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?’ ”. Remember, this is a slave girl from Egypt, given to Abraham as a gift. She has known nothing about God and here she is in the desert, carrying Abraham’s son, fleeing the wrath of Sarah, and God finds her and reveals Himself to her, even giving her unborn boy a name.

The plot thickens. An “Angel of the Lord” visits Abraham’s camp with the message that within a years’ time, Sarah will become pregnant with the child promised by God so many years ago. Sarah laughs when she hears this, but within a years’ time there is a second son running around in the camp. His name is Isaac which means “laughter”. The son produced by Hagar, the Egyptian servant, is now 17 years old. Tragedy is coming.

One day Sarah looked out the tent door and she saw something that would change everything. Ishmael, now 17, was making fun of Isaac, who was three. She called for Abraham and said, “drive out this maid and her son, for the son of the maid shall not be heir with my son Isaac”. This caused tension. How do I know? “The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son”. Can you begin to imagine the emotions of Abraham? “So Abraham rose early in the morning, took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and sent them away. And they departed into the wilderness.”

Can you put yourself in this scene? Now the water and the bread are used up and Hagar pushes her son under a bush and leaves him, as she does not want to see him die. As she sits there in her desperation, she lifts her voice and cries. “And God heard the lad crying and the Angel of the Lord called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “what is he matter with you Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad from where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation out of him. Then, she opened her eyes and saw a well of water; And she went and filled the skin with water and gave to the lad and he drank.”

Hagar disappears from the Biblical narrative. Ishmael, true to God’s promise produces 12 sons and from those 12 sons come the Arabian nations. However, that is not what I am interested in just now. I see a non-Jewish woman, an Egyptian servant from Pharaoh’s court, who has lost not only her place in life but has also lost her voice: she had no voice in Pharaoh’s court, she had no voice in Sarah’s home, she had no voice with the father of her son, and she is left destitute in the wilderness, with her son dying of thirst and starvation under a desert bush. She had no right to appeal her case, there was no one who could help her in this desperate situation. She walks away from her son and in desperation she lifts her voice in weeping, waiting for death to come.

But, rather than death coming, God came. Isn’t it interesting that God found this poor slave girl in these desperate circumstances when there was no one else that could help her? She even gave God a name; “the God who sees”.

I have met “Hagar” numerous times. She sat in my office and told me her story. Her husband had just kicked out of the house; her clothes and personal belongings were strewn across the front lawn. She had been beaten numerous times and felt that there was no one who cared nor was there any help. She sat under her bush and wept, except the weeping was in my office.

I think we all go through times of desolation. It is a part of building life. The important thing is how do we respond while we are under our bush? Has God ever come to you as he did to Hagar and said “return to Sarah and submit for I have heard your cry and I am with you”?

Do not allow life to overwhelm you. Circumstances are not greater than God.

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