Cautionary Tale

Since the rain bucketed down outside, I worked out inside. I found an online Piyo workout on I’ve been itching to that workout  It called itself a “demonstration”.  It kicked my tuchus.  My legs still burn.  To round out that 30-minute carnival, I did about 20 minutes of kettlebells circuits.  I started out with 3 sets of two-handed swings/figure 8s, 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off.  Then I added exercises for the next 14 minutes.  Whew!

New topic. I’m up to Genesis 18 in the Bible reading plan. So far, so good.

Genesis 16 caught my eye.  This is a “be careful what you wish for” story. Sarai, Abram’s wife, is unable to conceive.  She becomes desperate.

“Take my servant Hagar,” she pleads with Abram.  “Sleep with her.  Any child she conceives I can consider mine.”

Abram, holding to the “happy wife, happy life” school of theology, complies.  Hagar gets pregnant.  Then the problems start.

So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. 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. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!”

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. – Genesis 16:4-6

Hagar, resentful and afraid, makes a break for it.  She runs out into the wilderness and rests at a spring. The angel of the Lord finds her there.  Here’s what gets me.  The writer makes it sound like God’s angels just truck around the earth on a regular basis.  Hagar encountering a heavenly being while on the lam sounds commonplace.  “Dude, I was chillin’ at the creek and suddenly this glowing guy starts talking to me.  Whatever.” Insert shrug here.

I find that the only time God sends angels to intervene in human affairs in scripture is when things are about to go terribly wrong.  The angel sends a message of direction, hope, confirmation, some piece of divine wisdom to help hapless humanity stay on the right track.

That’s what the angel does.

The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

 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. 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.”

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?”  So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. – Genesis 16:9-14

Hagar had a visitation from the Lord. It changed her course.  She returned and submitted to Sarai, perhaps picking up a little kindness along the way. We have no way of knowing if she knew Yahweh at all before this, but she now had her own name for God:  “Living One Who Sees Me.” God showed great compassion to a young girl without a means to save herself. He kept his promise to Abram and Hagar.

This passage encouraged me. Some of us are in powerless places right now.  We can’t change our circumstances, how others treat us, or move things along. We want to walk away and not look back. Don’t lose heart. He still lives, and He sees you, too.  He will meet you at the spring.


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