Holding a grudge is like setting yourself on fire and expecting the other person to die from smoke inhalation.
Sometimes I like to imagine what it must have been like…maybe to have been a fly on the wall.
Here we have this couple that desperately wanted a child. But month after month, year after year they didn’t get pregnant. Out of frustration Sarah eventually suggests that maybe; just maybe the promised child was to come through another woman. This is when Sarah suggests Abraham marrying her Egyptian maid Hagar. Abraham accepted and Hagar becomes pregnant. Scripture says she picked up an attitude. I can imagine this passive aggressive, na-na-nu-boo-boo attitude; a haughty spirit if you will. “I am having Abraham’s ba-by!”
Sarah gets fed-up with Hagar’s attitude as jealousy sets in. She demands Abe to kick this chick to the curb. (Who wants to get in the middle of two jealous women?) Abraham told Sarah, she’s your maid, if you don’t like the situation you do something about it. Scripture says Sarah retaliated and mistreated Hagar. (Can’t you imagine how uncomfortable it must have been at family meals?) Out of rebellion Hagar ran away. But God stepped in to bring Hagar, pregnant with Abraham’s first child, back.
While Hagar retreats from Sarah, God talks to Hagar regarding her unborn child:
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Genesis 16:12
I’m not sure I can begin to imagine how that would feel! God says the child you are carrying will be a wild donkey of a man! Wo-ah! (I don’t even know what to say about that from a mothers perspective.)
But I also wonder what things were like after Hagar returned? Were these two wives ever civil to each other? How did Abraham treat his only son at the time? Was he an absentee father just to keep the peace with Sarah? Did Abraham only see Ishmael every now and again? Was Hagar forced to raise her child by herself? As a single mom, that is always tough.
Fast-forward. Ishmael is thirteen years old; Sarah and Abraham conceived and she gave birth to their long awaited Isaac.
The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking [Isaac] Genesis 21:8-9
Mocking a small child just weaned from his mother’s breast?
I don’t think it is a far-stretch to say that Ishmael picked up his attitude towards Isaac from his mother Hagar. Hagar clearly had hard feelings toward Sarah.
Pride, jealousy, favoritism, and the list could go on.
My biggest takeaway from Hagar and Ishmael is: Who else am I influencing with my justifiable right to hold a grudge? When I choose to hold onto my bad attitude or unforgiveness it doesn’t just affect me. It overflows onto those around me. Like it or not, we do slosh out on all those around us and it changes them too.
- We say things we shouldn’t.
- We want others to be on our side.
- We can validate all of our actions but none of the other person’s.
Who I am being a stumbling block to?
Hagar had a choice. Even though her situation wasn’t ideal. She still had a choice to lay down her offense or hold a grudge. She could Let it go or Keep it Trapped.
If I put myself in the story, what would I do? What do I do today? Am I quick to forgive?
Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Lord, help me to forgive! Set me free from grudges. Help me to keep a pure heart. Show me that I do have a choice
THIS WEEK WE WILL LEARN FROM HAGAR’S EXPERIENCES. SUBSCRIBE TO HAVE BREATH ON PAPER SENT TO YOUR EMAIL EVERY MORNING. (Unsubscribe at anytime.)
Cindy Willingham is a landscape designer, small group leader, avid encourager, and sinner saved by grace who is eight years new to Birmingham, Alabama. Her sweet husband of 37 years, two married children and four grand-kiddos fill her life with unbelievable fun and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice. ~ To read Cindy’s BoP Bio click here.