8-10: "…and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.'" - Sarah, just a few short years earlier, had been willing to do anything to insure that Abraham would have a son. But now, jealousy has replaced servanthood.
12: "But God said to him, 'Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." - Even though she seems harsh and unsympathetic, God advises Abraham to listen to Sarah and do as she asks.
14: "Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water…and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert…" - Just as Abraham will later follow God's instructions to the sacrificial altar with Isaac, he listens to God and faithfully sends his son, Ishmael, off into the wilderness where he is most certain to perish.
17-18: "God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid' God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.'" - Once again God reveals His love and faithfulness to His followers by dispelling their fears and pouring a bounty of blessings into their lives.
Points to Contemplate:
Is your life a "soap-opera?"
Does it seem that whenever you turn around there are always new levels of brokenness and dysfunctional issues in your life to deal with? Do you feel that God could never fully use you because of your brokenness? Sarah lacked faith, conspired and manipulated Abraham's destiny, became jealous and spiteful, and was self-centered. She even plotted murder by sending Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness. Sarah was not a perfect person and yet, God worked through her shortcomings in order to see that His covenant with Abraham was fulfilled? Are you allowing God to work through your shortcomings, flaws, and sins in order to become the blessing He has created you to be?
Are you distressed, fearful, or worried? How many times do you need to hear God say: "Do not worry?" "Do not be afraid." "Do not be so distressed." Do you trust God? Do you have faith in His promises for your life? Have you felt His love, experienced His forgiveness, and received His grace? Then why do you worry? Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, can you set your fears aside? Do you realize that God, the creator of the universe and author of your life, is with you, always? Will you accept His comfort? Aid? Healing love? Blessed assurance?
Are you an outcast from society? Are you poor, short, bald, obese, or slow? Is your wit slow or you tongue too quick? Do you long to be among the rich and famous but always find yourself living on the other side of the tracks? Do you sometimes feel that you could be more useful to God if you were more influential, wealthier, or better looking? Hagar was a slave from a foreign land. She had nothing to offer to the world. She was an outcast, discarded and abandoned. She was not part of God's chosen family. And yet, God's salvation and blessings flowed into her life in amazing ways. Do you see that God loves everyone, even you? Are you lifted and inspired knowing that no one in the world is an outcast in God's eyes? Promises of the Gospel:
Frequently it seems that our lives more closely follow the script of a Hollywood soap opera then the path of holiness we think we should be following. Our failings and sins create improbable scenarios. In our lives we walk through a mind-field of failed promises, selfish intent, diabolical intrigue, and moral decay. We are our own worst enemies. On top of that, we frequently find we do not fit into society. We are always "too - something." Too tall, too short, too male, too female, too rich, too poor, too loud, too quiet…the list of "toos" can become so long that our hearts begin to fill with fear and worry. The lives of Sarah and Hagar reveal to us that it is okay be "too" human. In spite of our failings, shortcomings, and sinfulness, God still loves us and He will continue to bless us. No matter who we are or how we act, we are blessed to be a blessing in this too-human world. Have no fear, God is near.