And He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, “where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. -Genesis 16:8
Growing up you’ve probably heard the phrase- “drawing the short straw”—meaning some unlucky person who randomly picked the short straw is selected to perform a task that no one volunteered for.
This is the image that comes to my mind as I read the story of Hagar. She drew the short straw and didn’t even know it.
Hagar’s “drawing of the short straw” story begins when Abraham and Sarah leave the land of Canaan and enter Egypt and Abraham plots to have Sarah pose as his sister and not his wife. Pharaoh (thought to be Hagar’s father) notices Sarah and adds her to his harem. He lavishes gifts on Abraham. He gives him camels, sheep, cattle, donkeys and servants. Pharaoh learns the truth that Sarah is actually Abraham’s wife and sends them away with all their belongings including Hagar.
Hagar had no say in the matter. Her father added her to the lavish gifts already given to Abraham and sent them away but her story continues with a plot devised by Sarah.
God had promised a child to Abraham and Sarah. When Sarah became impatient she devised a plan for Abraham to sleep with Hagar and conceive a child. Hagar would carry the child in her womb but Sarah would be seen as the mother.
Hagar’s pregnancy brought added attention to her and she liked it. Her attitude towards Sarah was “I’m having a baby and you can’t.” Sarah made life difficult for Hagar that she ran away (Genesis 16:6). An angel of the Lord tells her to return to Sarah and submit to her and tells her “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”
The same promise God made to Abraham he made to an Egyptian slave woman.
Hagar returns and gives birth to Abraham’s first born son, Ishmael.
Years later, Sarah gives birth to Isaac and looks at Ishmael as a threat. At the request of Abraham with the leading of Sarah they are forced into the wilderness with water that will last for a short time. The water runs out and she begins to cry. An angel appears to Hagar and tells her that Ishmael would not suffer and opened her eyes to a well nearby; reassuring her of the promise God made her about Ishmael- he would be a father of a mighty nation.
What problems are you facing that have you running in the opposite direction?
Hagar was a runner. When she faced a troubling situation it was easier for her to run instead of facing the situation head on. God tells Hagar to return to the root of her problem (Sarah) and submit to her authority. This was not easy for Hagar to do but she did so without question and with a new attitude towards Sarah.
Are you facing your current situation with anger, frustration, or disbelief? Have you lost hope? Have you given up?
Whatever situation we are facing God hears the cries of His children.
Psalm 34:17 reminds us that the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
Learn more about Hagar in our “Learning From Their Examples” series.
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Tonya Masoner is a part-time legal assistant and full-time school custodian. She enjoys thrift shopping, pizza Sunday’s and binge watching Netflix. She loves telling people-“God’s got a sense of humor… I don’t even drink coffee.” Her Breath on Paper bio can be found here.