I remember first reading about Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Sarah and Abraham had no children, but desperately longed for them. Abraham knew God has said he would be the father of many nations, but Sarah, in her old age (we’re talking great-grandma age in today’s equivalence) assumed God meant that it would be with her servant, Hagar. As a slave, all that belonged to Hagar also belonged to Sarah.
First, Sarah basically forced her husband on Hagar. Yes, it was legal at the time, but we certainly wouldn’t consider it the right thing to do now. When Hagar conceived almost immediately after Sarah laid barren all those years, Hagar just knew that meant Sarah was the reason for their empty household, not Abraham. And when Hagar rubbed it in Sarah’s face, Sarah abused her and kicked her out of the house! That left Hagar pregnant, homeless, exiled to the wilderness and all alone.
But it was there in the desert that God leaned into Hagar’s brokenness. It had to be so heart-wrenching, to be used. Abused. Discarded. Hagar didn’t ask for it. But God said, “I have seen, and this is your reward.”
Genesis 16 says,
The Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”
She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”
Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.” The Angel of theLord also said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”
It’s Hagar who named God, El Roi, the God Who Sees. And the same God who saw Hagar in her hard things will see you and I through ours.
Oh, the hard things. In my dayplanner, Monday’s hard things looked like this:
- Stay up til 1 am helping autistic son with a science project.
- Get four hours of sleep.
- Wake up, take the kids to school.
- One-on-one meeting with teacher to discuss son’s “issues.”
- Work a full day.
- Pick kids up, come home, cook, work on Math homework
- Continue writing newest book proposal.
- Bake cupcakes for daughter’s science assignment.
- Send in yearbook money.
- Put kids to bed
- Send out contract updates for second job.
- Go to sleep with four hours less sleep time than I planned.
For as many things as I have on my plate, none of those include, “Return to the mistress who beat and abused you and whose husband’s child you are carrying.” But that doesn’t mean my hard things aren’t hard. It doesn’t mean past things weren’t equally unbearable. I bet there’s someone reading right now who’s criticized the list above and mentally said, “Well I would never…” But like Hagar, sometimes we can’t control the hand we’re given. Sometimes we have to take on three jobs to make our dreams happen, force those 15 minutes a day we work on our dreams because that’s all we can spare, brave being the single parent because that’s what our children need, or lose a friendship because we’ve chosen a path others don’t understand.
Through it all, God sees. But He doesn’t stand by just watching as we get beat up by the bullies of life.
For Hagar, her reward was the exact thing that was so important in those days: lineage. She would have more descendants than she could count. She would be blessed for her obedience.
In Chapter 3 of her book, You’re Made For A God-Sized Dream, Holley Gerth writes,
When we focus on what God has truly called us to do, we can face guilt, criticism, and misunderstanding. It’s a brave choice. Maybe no one has ever told you thank you for making those hard decisions. Thank you for not simply giving in and signing up or settling for someone else’s agenda for your life. Thank you for keeping God first and listening to what he has called you to do. I know there are other voices. I know there are other opportunities. I know you could walk away. And you haven’t. Good for you.
To be honest, sometimes it’s hard to keep going when only God sees, because we can’t see the reward for our sacrifices. And it’s hard to make sacrifices when it seems like there’s no purpose. But no matter how how insignificant it seems, saying yes to God is all that matters. In the end, it is El Roi who sees you.
Take stock in all the things you’re doing. If there are things you’re doing that God has asked you to let go, let them go. If there are things God has asked you to do that are hard? Don’t not do them because they’re hard. If He’s asked you to do them, He’s already prepared the way. Wherever you are in your hard things journey, He sees you. He loves you. Keep going, friend.
Cheering for you,
Shared by: Karen Sipps