Escape of some kind is usually the most tempting solution to our problems. In fact, it can become a habit. Hagar was a person who used that approach. When the going got tough, she usually got going – in the other direction.
However, it is worthwhile to note that the biggest challenges Hagar faced were brought on by other people’s choices. Sarah chose her to bear Abraham’s child, and Hagar probably had little say in the matter.
It isn’t hard to understand how Hagar’s pregnancy caused her to look down on Sarah. But that brought on hard feelings, and Sarah consequently punished Hagar. This motivated her first escape. When she returned to the family and gave birth to Ishmael, Sarah’s continued barrenness must have contributed to bitterness on both sides.
When Isaac was finally born, Sarah looked for any excuse to have Hagar and Ishmael sent away. She found it when she caught Ishmael teasing Ha Isaac. In the desert, out of water and facing the death of her son, Hagar once again tried to escape. She walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch her son die. Once again, God graciously intervened.
Have you noticed how patiently God operates to make our escape attempts fail? Have you begun to learn that escape is only a temporary solution? God’s continual desire is for us to face our problems with his help. We experience his help most clearly in and through conflicts and difficulties, not away from them. Are there problems in your life for which you’ve been using the “Hagar solution”? Choose one of those problems, ask for God’s help, and begin to face it today.
Strength and accomplishment:
- Mother of Abraham’s first child, Ishmael, who became founder of the Arab nations
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- When faced with problems, she tended to run away
- Her pregnancy brought out strong feelings of pride and arrogance
Lessons from her life:
- God is faithful to his plan and promises, even when humans complicate the process
- God shows himself as one who knows us and wants to be known by us
- The New Testament uses Hagar as a symbol of those who would pursue favour with God by their own efforts, rather than by trusting in his mercy and forgiveness
- Where: Canaan and Egypt
- Occupation: Servant, mother
- Relatives: Son: Ishmael
Key verse: “Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her’ “ (Genesis 16:9).
Hagar’s story is told in Genesis 16-21. She is also mentioned in Galatians 4:24, 25.