She fled knowing her life was unraveling. All that was left was a frayed thread of existence. Desperate, thirsty and alone, she kept running. Hagar, Sarai’s Egyptian maidservant, ran until she collapsed by a spring in the wilderness.
Tension in the House
As I read the passage in Genesis 16:6-16, I imagined the scene. Sarai gave her maidservant, Hagar, to her husband Abram so he would sleep with her and gain a descendant.
Perhaps, Hagar thought she would advance from her low state. She could find equality or at least, entitlement. After all, Hagar was now pregnant with Abram’s child. Scripture only tells us that Hagar despised her mistress.
The tension in the house was too high. Sarai couldn’t subdue her raging emotions and mistreated Hagar. Hagar was a painful reminder of Sarai’s barrenness. Finally, Hagar fled into the wilderness.
I felt empathy for Hagar. She didn’t ask to leave Egypt. She didn’t ask to be Sarai’s maidservant. She didn’t ask to carry Abram’s child. Her future looked bleak, but she couldn’t go back.
Facing Our Past to Find Our Future
While Hagar rested by the spring, an angel brought her a message:
Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”
Genesis 16:9-10 New American Standard Bible
God gave Hagar hope. God would bless her with a multitude of descendants through her son, Ishmael. The message didn’t fix her problem, but it convinced her to face her past. Her descendants would have a future. Hagar found the strength to return because she had a promise from God.
This passage revealed a significant lesson for me. Sometimes, we run from our past. We create new resolutions, as weak substitutions, for unresolved pain. Instead of moving forward we find ourselves in an emotional wilderness, but God’s reassuring promises can heal our grief.
God Sees You
Hagar went back with a fresh perspective.
Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”
Genesis 16:13 NASB
Hagar knew she wasn’t alone. When nights were too long, when mistreatments added pain, she knew God saw her. When she rocked her son to sleep, she knew that submission carried a cost, but it also brought a blessing.
You’re not alone, either. God sees you. He sees every tear and hears every cry.
Moving Forward with God’s Promises
We may find our past is too hard to bear. Perhaps, our anger or bitterness makes it difficult to forgive those who have mistreated us. God, however, has a promise for every emotional struggle.
We can’t run from our emotional pain. Like Hagar, we need to submit to God, find our brave, and embrace God’s promises. It’s a process that provides the antidote to pain, and hope for a renewed mind.
Take Hold of Your Promise
Take God’s Word and let Him heal your spirit with His loving salve–scripture.
During personal struggles, I find hope in reading God’s promises. I write specific scriptures that minister to my need on 3×5 index cards. I keep them in my Bible or my purse for easy reference.
You can use an online Bible Concordance to look up topical scriptures to find your particular promise. If you currently don’t use an online resource, let me recommend, Bible Study Tools.
Your past doesn’t have to keep you in an emotional wilderness; you can move forward with God’s promises.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.