articlesqa August 14, 2015 hagar in the desert
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of
Some­times, it feels like the wilder­ness is bet­ter. But even there, God meets us.

Why I Love Ha­gar

The pas­sages we’ll be read­ing from are Gen­e­sis 16 and Gen­e­sis 21. Cen­tral to both of them is the sto­ry of a lit­tle known lady named Ha­gar. I just ab­solute­ly love her and her char­ac­ter. I just feel that I (a man) can iden­ti­fy with her. I don’t iden­ti­fy with her be­cause I know ex­act­ly what she’s go­ing through. I’ve nev­er been forced to be preg­nant against my wish­es (al­though I think it was more ac­cept­able in the cul­ture of that time). I’ve nev­er car­ried a baby in my bel­ly for 9 months and nev­er will (ex­cept by proxy) :-).

I iden­ti­fy with Ha­gar be­cause I of­ten end up where she con­sis­tent­ly ends up: in the desert. There are many ways to end up in the desert. There are many ways to wan­der and find your­self in a place where all around you is dust and there is no wa­ter and the land is bar­ren of hope for miles and miles. And even should you see hope, an oa­sis in the wilder­ness, will it be real or will it be a mi­rage? And even if it is real (if I can make it there), how long will the oa­sis last be­fore it runs out and I, like the wa­ter, have to run away again.

Ha­gar’s sit­u­a­tion was a com­pli­cat­ed one like ours of­ten are. She was wronged and she did wrong. It was not fair and it was fair. But her out­come is the same. She is in the desert. All is lost and hope­less. What is she to do? What am I to do? And in the an­swer to this ques­tion, I dis­cov­er why I real­ly love Ha­gar. She shows me that the Pres­ence of the Lord is bet­ter than any wa­ter I find in the desert. I love her be­cause through her, I see that not only is the Lord Just and Mer­ci­ful, He pur­sues me to show­er me with this great jus­tice and mer­cy. He, Almighty and Holy, woos me with mer­cy and fa­vor to bring me to re­pen­tance. Even when I have de­spaired and giv­en up, He does not hide His Face. When I am at the point of death so that, like Ha­gar, I have hid­den my face from those in need, even then, He does not hide His Face. And for this rea­son, I al­ways see Him for He is the God who sees me.

Bet­ter Is The Desert

As with a lot of the Old Tes­ta­ment sto­ries, the sto­ry does not real­ly be­gin un­til you get to the mid­dle. (Pssst, you’ll learn this if you fol­low the lessons). The key to un­der­stand­ing Gen­e­sis 16 is in the mid­dle of the chap­ter which in­ci­den­tal­ly has 16 vers­es. Let us be­gin then at Gen­e­sis 16:8. What a strange ques­tion for the an­gel to be ask­ing? Does he ask be­cause he doesn’t know where Ha­gar is go­ing or where she’s com­ing from? No. Very of­ten, God asks us ques­tions not to find out in­for­ma­tion but to help us see our­selves. Ha­gar thought that a bub­bling spring Gen­e­sis 16:7 in the wilder­ness on her way to the desert (Shur) was bet­ter than the pres­ence of Sarah, her mis­tress. She ra­tio­nal­ly thought it was bet­ter to be dry and walk­ing the path to bar­ren­ness and death than to suf­fer in the pres­ence of Sarah.

Now think how mis­er­able her life must have been to con­sid­er that an un­re­li­able spring was bet­ter than her suf­fer­ing at the hands of Sarah. Be­fore we move back in the sto­ry, let us draw near to Ha­gar and have a look at her. Have you ever seen your­self in her? Have you ever been some place where you know that es­cap­ing will prob­a­bly even­tu­al­ly kill you and even still this po­ten­tial death is bet­ter than the death it feels like you’re dy­ing? Maybe its an abu­sive hus­band whom you could leave but would now have to find a way to feed your­self and your chil­dren. Maybe its a job sit­u­a­tion that lit­er­al­ly chok­ing the dream from your life and all the life from your dreams. Sure you could leave this job but how would you pay rent, loans, cred­it cards and so on and so on. Maybe you sinned, did wrong and now you’re pay­ing for it phys­i­cal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly and spir­i­tu­al­ly. The guilt is eat­ing you up and suck­ing you dry. You know you shouldn’t leave be­cause that would only add more guilt but you can’t take this feel­ing of worth­less­ness that you feel or are made to feel every day.

Maybe it hasn’t been any­thing as dra­mat­ic as the above. You’ve just kin­da found your­self adrift in life and wan­der­ing from the Lord. You’re not in love with the Lord. In­stead, you’ve found your­self drink­ing from the un­re­li­able spring of be­ing a “good enough” per­son. Slow­ly but sure­ly, you have fled from your Lord and Mas­ter so that it is from far away that you hear His voice in Rev­e­la­tions 2:4-5 call­ing to you. Sure­ly, you know there is a desert await­ing you if you keep flee­ing. But there is also an un­re­li­able spring along the way. Will you stop a while and have a drink with Ha­gar? Per­haps, the Lord will meet us here.

The ques­tion here is ask­ing you to step into the shoes of God and spec­u­late about why He Might have cre­at­ed the tree of the knowl­edge of good and evil and then giv­en Adam the com­mand not to eat it. This seems im­pos­si­ble. It is dif­fi­cult enough to walk in Abra­ham’s shoes but now you must imag­ine your­self to be God?! As with all ques­tions re­quir­ing your imag­i­na­tion, it is im­por­tant to 1 be hum­ble. Do not be quick to judge. Do not trust your own imag­i­na­tive ca­pac­i­ties. Do not think you know the per­son so well. 2 Pa­tient­ly study the life of the per­son in ques­tion to dis­cern true dif­fer­ences and sim­i­l...
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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3