Yesterday morning I was reading Genesis 16 during devotions. This chapter tells the story of Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant, who had the child Ishmael with Abram. When the child was conceived, Sarai became upset with Hagar. Sarai was jealous of the pregnancy because she was barren. Hagar fled to the wilderness. The angel of the LORD met her there and told her to go back to Sarai. The angel told Hagar that she would have a son. In addition, the angel told her that her son would be troublesome, to say the least. The ESV calls him “wild donkey of a man” (Gen 16:12).
What happens next is amazing to me. Hagar calls God “a God of seeing” and one “who looks after me”(ESV Gen 16:13). In the midst of the trouble Hagar realizes God is with her. She does obey and goes back to Sarai. However, Hagar’s life after obedience is not one of continual happiness. Think of what she must do when she goes back. Sarai mistreats her and eventually when Isaac is born Hagar and Ishmael are sent away (Gen 21). Ishmael in Hebrew is Yishma’e’l which means God will hear. Also remember what God had said about her son. What mother wants to hear that her son will be filled with anger?
What can we learn from this passage? God is with us even in the midst of our troubles. We can praise Him for looking after us in the wilderness like Hagar. Also, we can see that our obedience and praise to God do no always lead to ideal circumstances. Hagar obeyed but was sent out from Abraham’s household and had a troublesome son. Ignore those preachers or people who say that loving God is a prescription for money, fame, and happiness on earth. It is simply not biblical. Instead we are promised that we will “suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).