Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children[a] by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.[b] 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael,[c] because the Lord has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,”[d] for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”[e] 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi;[f] it lies between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
I find this story in Genesis very thought provoking, as there are times where I do not "feel" like God sees or hears me. We all go through dry spells in our relationship with the Lord, and feel like an island unto our self. However, this passage is a clear indication that God does see and hear us, no matter what we might feel or based on our emotion for that day.
In Genesis 16 we see clearly where Sarai gets ahead of God and tells Abraham to sleep with her handmaid Hagar in order to bear a child, as Sarai was barren at that point. Once the deed is done, Sarai harbors contempt for not only Hagar, but for her husband going through with her suggestion. Bitterness was eating Sarai up inside. It is easy to point fingers and criticize where characters in the Bible went astray, but the truth is that we can learn from them, as we encounter similar struggles in our lives today. It is easy to get distracted by getting ahead of God and his will for our lives.
There are a couple of things that resonate from the above passage. 1) Just like Eve offered Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden, and just like Adam partook in his wife's offering, so Abram also gave in to the offering by his wife. I find the parallels of Eve and Sarai, and Adam and Abram to be a little eye opening. 2) Once Hagar conceived, there was nothing but contempt by Sarai towards Hagar, Ishamael, and Abram. It is important to note that just aimlessly following instructions by someone, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which under the new covenant we are blessed to have indwell in us), will result in confusion, contempt, and displeasure. We can't hide behind excuses or blame! Personal accountability and ownership is tantamount. 3) I also find it very sobering that once Hagar is cast out into the wilderness while pregnant with Ishamael, an angel of the Lord appears to her and tells her to return! Imagine being rejected and hated, and being told to return back into that environment. It is worthy of noting right here that Hagar was obedient to the angel of the Lord, and said "You are a God of seeing!"
Now at this point, the average Christian tunes out, as Ishamael is the father of the Arab nations, and Isaac who is estimated to have been born 14 years later, is the father of Judaism/Israel. I however find it very insightful that just because Abram jumped ahead of God and His plan for him to father Isaac as the father of many nations, He also did not turn his back on Hagar or Ishamael.
Genesis 17:15-21 ESV
15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah[d] shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give[e] you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.[f] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
This brings us to the passage above of God Hearing us. Abraham is making a statement to God, "Oh that Ishamael might live before you!" God tells him No, as he wanted the chosen bloodline to continue through Isaac, and not Ishmael, but he "Hears" Abraham, and promises blessings and fruitful multiplication to Ishmael's descendants.
We see clearly through these two passages that God sees and hears Hagar and Abraham, and later in chapter 21 of Genesis (when Hagar and Ishmael are cast out together) we once again see where God says that he hears the voice of Ishamael crying out in the wilderness.
Is there a time in your life where you felt void of God seeing or hearing you? Do you ever feel alone, and that nothing that you do is ever seen or heard. These passages give me hope, in that in situations that were not so pleasant and pleasing, God makes a point of letting His servants know that He Sees and Hears them.
Life Application: We all get ahead of God at times like both Abram and Sarai did. We all encounter rejection in life like Hagar & Ishmael did. Some of us might encounter depression & rejection, and feel like we are cast out into the wilderness. What is applicable is the solution to these dilemmas. We see that each of these characters in the Bible in these scenarios cried out to the Lord. I encourage each of you to cry out to the Lord, as He Sees and Hears you!