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  • Writer's pictureSherry Johnston

The God Who Sees

The God Who Sees

Hi! my name's Hagar. Thank you for asking for my story You can read the important parts in Genesis chapters 16 and 21, but I'll tell you that mostly I'm passed over or used as an example of someone else's mistake. It's okay; I really don't mind. God sees me and that's what matters! 

I guess it all starts when I was just a girl. A disease came through our village and both of my parents died. My uncle took me in and did his best, but one more mouth to feed was just one too many and he sold me in the hopes that at least I would be fed daily. It wasn't too bad. Better than living on the streets, I guess. I stayed quiet and worked hard and changed hands more times than I count. But good fortune was with me and I ended up in the house of Pharaoh. (I say, “good fortune” because that's what I thought at the time. Now I know it was the very Hand of God. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

I met Sarai when Pharaoh brought her into his harem. I felt sorry for her that day. Her husband led Pharaoh to believe that she was just another female he could do with as he wanted. Such a pretty woman! Boy, was Sarai mad! But she wasn't frightened like most of the new girls are. I heard her praying to her God and she seemed sure of deliverance. Somehow she knew that God had other plans for her. And was she right! You should have been there when Pharaoh discovered that Sarai was married to Abram! The whole palace was in an uproar with Pharaoh tripping over himself to make amends.

This is where I come in. I'm “amends”, or at least a portion of amends. I was given to Abram and Sarai along with other servants, sheep, oxen and donkeys. It wasn't too bad at first. I tried to stay out of the way and do as I was told; no one seemed to really notice me. Then Sarai got this hair-brained idea that since God promised Abram a son, and she was post-menopausal, I would get the job of having the old man's child! As a servant, you do as you are told, and, thankfully it didn't take too long before I was pregnant.

That's when I made my mistake. Abram treated me like I was hiding the most precious jewels in my womb! Oh, how he would go on about the promised child and the blessings God would bestow upon us! See my slip there? I said, “us”. I assumed that the mother of the promised child would be part of the blessings. My ego got the better of me and I started looking down on poor, barren Sarai. It got ugly! The two of us treated each other worse and worse until I couldn't take it anymore! I was still a servant, and Sarai had a harshness in her that was too much for my pregnant body to take. I ran. Talk about hair-brained ideas! I thought I could make it across the wilderness to a place called Shur.

I was resting by a spring of water when he came to me. He knew my name and my circumstance. “Hagar, Sarai's maid”, he said, “where have you come from and where are you going?” He told me to return to her. I wanted to argue, but then he said the strangest thing.

     You will bear a son and call his name Ishmael,

     because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.

     He will be a wild donkey of a man.

     His hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand will be against him;

     and he will live to the east of his brothers.

I'll admit, the part about the wild donkey was beyond what I could comprehend at the time, and I can't imagine any pregnant woman being pleased to hear the bit about everyone being against her baby. But that second phrase had me in awe!

“The LORD has given heed to your affliction!” “The LORD”: the eternal, holy, almighty God, creator of heaven and earth has seen my affliction! My “affliction”: my distress, my misery. He sees me! He knows me! Me, Hagar; the orphaned nobody, sold more times than anyone can count, rounded up with a bunch of animals and passed off for a consolation-prize! God saw me! He saw my son who hadn't even been born yet! And He knew that we had a future!

It wasn't easy to return to Sarai. I had to humble myself and put up with her mood swings. (I wasn't beyond mocking her when I didn't think she could hear.) Ishmael, whose name means God hears, was born and he enjoyed his father's favor. It was a good life for a while. But then Sarai (who started calling herself Sarah) got pregnant. Our old rivalry was reignited, and this time Abraham was on her side. My mouth got the better of me and Sarah hit her limit! Abraham gave me some bread and water and Ishmael and I were sent packing!

It's not that I'd forgotten that last trip into the wilderness. I knew that, somehow, God could see me. But maybe I'd gone too far this time. Maybe His promises about Ishmael were no longer valid. Maybe my ego and sharp tongue were our undoing! We were hungry and thirsty beyond anything I'd ever experienced before. We were going to die and it was my fault! I couldn't bear to watch, so I left Ish under a bush and wept!

All I can tell you is that God does see! Ishmael and I were saved. We lived in the desert, and I found out what “a wild donkey of a man” means. I never again worried if God would keep His promise. I learned that God's blessings are not to be earned or lost based on behavior.

He sees my good and He sees my bad. He sees me!

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