Open Your Bible
Genesis 16:1-16, Genesis 21:8-21, Psalm 56:8
I have a very little baby right now. I spend most of my hours nursing her or holding her. And when she finally happens to be sleeping somewhere that’s not my arms I’m able to do other things. But the problem is my list of “necessaries” has become so long and so urgent that I can’t even decide where to begin. I lay the baby down and just stand still with glazed-over eyes, thinking, Where do I begin? This morning while she napped, I gaped at my list with sheer, uncomprehending panic. I couldn’t set myself on a course. And if you can’t find a place to start, and then stick with your plan, nothing ever gets done. I spend the moments in between nursing sessions drifting from task to task. Homeschooling, housecleaning, writing, trying to be present and available. But these responsibilities stack on top of each other, and I inevitably find my mind aimlessly wandering.
Even the most focused among us are prone to wander. We allow ourselves little, innocent wanderings (like idly wondering if hummingbirds fly to Puerto Rico in the winter) or wide, damaging veers off the course (like refusing to forgive). And sometimes we flat-out run away. That’s what Hagar did. Sarai, later renamed Sarah, treated her maidservant harshly, and pregnant Hagar ran from her, into the wilderness. But the Lord saw her. He gives grace to those who can’t seem to take anymore.
Do you find yourself in her shoes sometimes? Not, ahem, the impregnated maidservant of a biblical patriarch so much, but by yourself in the wilderness? Those who stray, those who run, are nevertheless beloved by Him. He still attended and cared for Hagar in the desert, and He does the same for us.
God sees us even when we can no longer see straight. His providence encompasses us no matter where we go. This is not a reason to excuse and condone waywardness, but it’s a reminder of the goodness and graciousness of God, a provocation to gratefulness and an exhortation to run to Him.
He didn’t see Hagar because of anything she’d done. We aren’t told she had faith like Abraham’s. We read nothing about her devotion to God or to righteousness. As Sarai’s maidservant, she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter when it came to bearing Ishmael. And when Sarai was mean to her, she ran off in disobedience. Of course, we can all empathize with her, but the fact of the matter is, God saw Hagar and comforted her in the desert because He is good, not because Hagar was. And that is good news for all who wander.