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Hagar, My Hero
Photo: Borislav Dopudja
Everything was going great. She was happy, lived in beautiful surroundings and the work was easy. The mistress was a little bossy, but that was to be expected because her husband was rich and powerful. Yes, Hagar’s life was going great.

On the whole, the household was a happy one, although she would occasionally hear her mistress crying -- something to do with being barren. It seemed strange to Hagar that Sarai was still worrying about not having children; after all, her mistress was really old. When Sarai approached Hagar about having a baby for her, Hagar wasn’t surprised because it was common practice for masters to father children with their servants. Hagar felt honored. You know the rest of the story.

“So Abram slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress Sarai with contempt” (Genesis 16:4). By the way, this isn’t the part that makes Hagar my hero. This is the part that emphasizes the problems that occur when we run ahead of God as Sarai and Abram did. Hagar was an innocent bystander until they brought her into their Godless plan.

Unfortunate Plight

With Abram’s blessing, Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar and she ran away into the wilderness. So we find poor homeless Hagar alone in the desert, fortunate to have found a stream. Without food, she wouldn’t last long. But this was better than being mistreated at the hands of her mistress. Hagar had been minding her own business when she was invited to do something wonderful for Sarai and Abram. Sure, she got a little prideful, but Sarai had been so cruel in return that Hagar chose to die in the desert rather than stay in Abram’s comfortable household.

Ready to die, she was frightened when an angel appeared and began speaking to her. Now the hero part: Hagar listened, believed and obeyed. The angel had a lot to tell Hagar about her son and his countless descendents. Instead of being concerned about the wild son she was about to birth, she held onto the promises. She was also touched that God had seen her and sent someone to comfort her. Hagar could have easily ignored God’s promises, just as Abram and Sarai were doing, but she believed. But the angel had more to say. Hagar was to return to Sarai and submit to her authority. What a bitter pill.

The journey home must have seemed endless to Hagar, but she held in her heart God’s promises about her son. From that time on, she often talked about “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). Hagar was obedient and that makes her my hero.

Sarai had been wrong to mistreat her. Abram was wrong when he abdicated his responsibility as head of the household and accepted Sarai’s plan to have Hagar bear his child. And when Sarai blamed him for the problems, Abram failed to accept responsibility again and let Sarai deal with Hagar alone. Hagar’s my hero because she did three things I have a hard time doing. She listened, she believed and she obeyed. Even if I had believed the angel, it would have been difficult for me to return as a servant to Sarai. But Hagar, armed with the knowledge that God saw her, obeyed.

Hagar’s humility points us to another who took on humility and became a servant. “Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

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By Dee Reed. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New Living Translation © copyright 1996.

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