Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.
Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” (Genesis 16:3-4, 7-8)
Hagar, she had no part in the conversation that happened between Sarah and Abraham; no part in the decision that Sarah made to give her maid to Abraham so that she might bear them children when Sarah could not. Rather, Hagar served where she was placed and as a result, she conceived a child. Hagar served and as a result, because of Sarah’s own decision, she became despised in Sarah’s eyes.
I think you have been there, too, my friend — serving faithfully where God has placed you and yet, the results have only broken your heart as you have faced gossip, slander, even hatred. And you know that you have only served the Lord to the best of your abilities, trying your hardest to do everything right and still, there is always someone who does not agree, someone who tells you in every possible way just how much they disapprove.
I think our hearts are allowed to break over even smaller things and this here, to face despise that is completely undeserved. Might just be the one thing that dismantles our soul. So Hagar flees — like the rest of us always want to, and sometimes do.
What I love most about this story, however, is that it is not an angel who comes seeking Hagar. It is the Angel, the Lord Himself.
The Lord Himself comes seeking after us who flee in the presence of fear, us who are ready to flee at the first sighting of trouble ahead of us. Whether it is impossible situations or impossible people that we are escaping from, God comes seeking after us Himself and we can trust that He will always find us, no matter where we come from this time. Here, we face only grace and redemption as we look to the eyes of Love Himself.
Many times we wonder, if the acts of bravery are only done by those great heroes of our time, those who have the courage to do great things while we barely manage to fight the instinct of fleeing when the thunderstorms arise in our lives.
But our gracious God tells us a different message, the one that changes our new year into something completely different — that the brave people are the ones who stay put when the storms rise, who show up in spite of the crippling fear, who brave fall on their knees and confess their failures.
Brave are the ones who know they are not brave at all. For when we are weak, then we are strong.
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)