We long to be cared for

We long to be cared for

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” – Genesis 16:13

Genesis 16:7-14

 7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.

 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.

 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”

 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

 11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress.

 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”

 13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”).

The need to be understood, accepted, and cared for is a common human trait. Some people have the innate ability to be caregivers. They concern themselves with the interests of others wanting only their best. They also watch over them. The term caregiver is used mainly in American English. The British equivalent of caregiver is carer. They are natural empaths. They give emotional or physical care and support to those who receive their care.

Caregivers can be complete strangers. Consider the story of the Good Samaritan. On the other hand, they can be very close friends, guardians, or family. The recipients of care cannot earn or become worthy of receiving it. In fact, it is their neediness that often stirs the caregiver into action.

Talk about dysfunctional families, Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren and unable to have children. But the Father had promised that she would provide Abraham with an heir. Sarah felt great sadness, shame, and ultimately guilt for not being able to have a child.

After years of trying, Sarah could wait no longer. She wrongly came to believe that could no longer trust the Father to come through. She had a better idea. She had a female handmaiden, a slave, Hagar. Hagar could serve as a surrogate mother and bear a child in her place. This is a common custom in the Ancient Near East. Abraham would have a physical heir. Abraham would be the father; Sarah simply would not be the mother. An heir is an heir. She allowed the cultural norms of the day to influence her choices, rather than trusting and waiting for the Father to fulfill His promise.

“It was a serious matter for a man to be childless in the ancient world, for it left him without an heir. But it was even more calamitous for a woman: to have a great brood of children was the mark of success as a wife; to have none was an ignominious failure . . .. But wealthier wives preferred the practice of surrogate motherhood . . .. The mistress could then feel that her maid’s child was her own and exert some control over it in a way that she could not if her husband simply took a second wife” (Wenham).

Sarah did not think this through and consider the consequences. Hagar was elevated from a lowly slave to a concubine, quasi-wife. Can you imagine the tension this must have created between the women? But when Hagar becomes pregnant, things take a turn for the worst.

Genesis 16:4-6

 4 When Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt.

 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt . . ..

 6 Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

Envy and jealousy erupted into resentment and outright animosity. Hagar becomes the victim of Sarah’s indignation and rage. We are not given the details. They are left to our imagination. But things got so bad, that Hagar ran away. She fled into the wilderness, all alone and full of fear. For all practical purposes, she felt there was no one left to watch over and care for her. Was she destined to be an unwed single-parent? She was in desperate need, all alone and without help or hope in the desert.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Hagar had to learn that as children of a sovereign God, we are never victims of our circumstances. God does not want us to run away from our problems, but to face them with His help” (Stanley).

Father, we all long to be cared for. Children of the King need to have the support and care of others who love us and want our best. Thank You for being that Person.

INSIGHT

But, Hagar was not alone. The Father was watching over her. The Father reacted to her dire predicament with a wake-up call. It was time for her to stop and think. He sent a messenger. His angel gently asked, where have you come from? Where are you going?

Genesis 16:8-10

 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.

 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”

 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

Hagar’s answer mirrors what is too often sadly our own. I’m running away, I want to be anywhere but home. Life is just too tough; I cannot take it anymore.

She answered the first question. However, she did not answer the second question. Perhaps she was wandering aimlessly, afraid, unsure of her future. The angel provided, assurance and instruction. Her reaction was extraordinary. The unseen God suddenly became more real to her than she could ever have imagined.

Genesis 16:13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Hagar had felt unseen, alone, and worthless. But now she realizes that the Father looks after her! He sees. He hears. He cares. He knows our future. He is always our ever-present hope, source of encouragement, and guidance.

Hagar is the only person, male or female, in the Old Testament who provided a name for God based on their personal experience. She called Him El Roi, God of seeing. El Roi has many possible translations and nuances: God of seeing, that is, the all-seeing God; God of my seeing, that is, whom I have seen; God who sees me. Perhaps these various meanings are simultaneously intended. “When God ‘sees,’ it is, of course, that He shows His concern and extends His protection; when Hagar ‘sees,’ she experiences God’s self-manifestation” (Sarna).

“There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet.” (Bill Halsey, Jr.). With apologies to Christopher Robin and Pooh, remember in the Father’s kingdom: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” (A.A. Milne).

In the Father’s kingdom, challenges faced and vanquished are the wellspring of spiritual growth and development. As children of the King, today’s struggles are marvelously transformed into the strength and confidence for tomorrow.

If you were to provide a name for the Father based upon your personal experience with Him, what would it be?

¯\_()_/¯

© Dr. H 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: