God turns “what if” into “so what”: Hagar, every woman (part 5)

God provides

For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37)

Hagar was a princess, a slave, and a symbol of women who persevere through extraordinary trials and tribulations. Ishmael was born of an illegitimate union, abandoned by his father and sent into the desert, and became a leader in spite of what some would say were shortcomings. Hagar and Ishmael lived above their circumstances, all because God had a plan and Grace showed up.

Hagar struggles, as we all do. Hagar’s circumstances are sorrowful- she is a slave, loses her family, is abused, has a child under less than ideal circumstances, is abandoned by her son’s father, and left to wander the desert with her son unsure of how she will ever provide for the two of them. Hagar faces disappointment, is insecure about her future, and fears for the safety of her son. We have all been to to these places on our own journeys. But God has His eye on Hagar, as He does all of us; and God provides for Hagar and Ishmael just as He does for us. You may feel alone, as Hagar did, but God knows exactly where you are and He has a plan for your life.

Many observations can be made regarding the story of Sarah and Hagar. First, God can and often does work through ways that appear unlikely from a human perspective. Abraham miraculously became a father at age 86 and again at age 99. Isaac’s mother, Sarah, was barren. God’s promise to Abraham did not depend on human strength, and with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). God used a seemingly impossible situation to make Abraham the father of the Jewish people, just as He had predicted. (Adapted from NIV Commentary, John Walton)

It is clear from this story that God works despite misguided human effort. Sarah had no business offering her servant to Abraham, and Abraham had no business sleeping with Hagar. And Sarah was wrong to mistreat her servant as she did. Yet God worked through these situations. Hagar was blessed, and Abraham and Sarah were still the recipients of the promise. God’s mercy is great, and His sovereign will is accomplished regardless of human frailty. (Adapted from NIV Commentary, John Walton)

This unlikely family story is one readers would expect to end badly. Yet God kept His promise; Isaac became the son of promise through whom the tribes of Israel would arise. Hagar’s son, Ishmael, also became a great leader. Regardless of how a situation looks from a human perspective, God continues to work both to accomplish His will and to fulfill His promises. (Adapted from NIV Commentary, John Walton)

In Galatians 4, Paul uses the story of Sarah and Hagar to illustrate the results of two different covenants: the New Covenant, based on grace; and the Old Covenant, based on the Law. In Paul’s analogy, believers in Christ are like the child born of Sarah—free, the result of God’s promise. Those who try to earn their salvation by their own works are like the child born of Hagar—a slave, the result of human effort. (Adapted from NIV Commentary, John Walton)

Never once were Hagar and Ishmael alone, never once. God had His hand on them, and He has his hand on you. Can you relate to Hagar? To her journey, her struggles, her crisis of faith? Can you see yourself in her struggles?

“Standing on this mountain top
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
Kneeling on this battleground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.” -Lyrics from Never Once by One Sonic Society

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