I have been studying books of the bible with thousands of women via the #First5 app. The book of Genesis is full to overflowing with adventures and I am absolutely loving my time spent studying those adventures every morning.
God’s presence was especially tangible as I recently studied Genesis chapter 16.
To give you a little background to this story, Abram and Sarai were still experiencing infertility at this point. Sarai’s empty arms were desperate for a newborn. From this desperation Sarai made the decision to ‘help God along’ with His covenant to Abram (Genesis 15:4-6) and she gave Abram to her maidservant Hagar as his wife. Sarai thought…”perhaps I can build a family through her.” (Genesis 16:2b)
Just as Sarai planned, Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived. This discovery was not a favourable one for Hagar, however, and Hagar began to resent Sarai. In retaliation to Hagar’s ill feelings toward her, Sarai decides to mistreat her. There are no details to how Sarai mistreated Hagar in the scriptures, however, in Genesis 16:6b the bible tells us that Hagar fled from Sarai.
Hagar is found sitting near a spring in the desert by an angel of the Lord. The angel asks Hagar “where have you come from, and where are you going?” (verse 8) Hagar informs the angel that she is running away from Sarai.
It is in the next few verses that God really spoke into my heart. The angel of the Lord told Hagar to “go back to [her] mistress and submit to her.” Say what?!
“And then the angel added, I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count. You are with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael for the Lord has heard of your misery.” (Genesis 16:10 & 11)
Later on in verse thirteen Hagar says “‘You are the God who sees me,‘ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.‘”
The one who sees me. Isn’t that amazing, friends?!
First of all, God knew that Hagar was running away from Sarai because she disliked her. It never has been God’s plan for us to be in conflict with one another. (Check out Matthew 18:15-20) Rather than run from the trouble she was facing, God asked Hagar to go back and face it head on.
I don’t know about you- but sometimes I just find it easier to run. And run and run. And run some more. But, God has better plans for His children. When we find ourselves in conflict – it’s our responsibility to face that conflict head on and make amends.
Secondly, (I so love this part), God gave the baby that Hagar was carrying the name Ishmael. Ishmael means “God listens.”
God listens!!! He listens and He sees (Genesis 16:11) our every move. He listens and He sees us during times of conflict. He listens and He sees us when we are answering His calls on our lives; and He listens and He sees us when we are being disobedient. He listens and He sees us when we are sinning. He understands our hearts and the things that affect us. He doesn’t turn His back on us– HE LISTENS AND HE SEES US. I find that incredibly comforting.
Our gracious and loving God runs after us – even when we do our very best to run away. He listens to our miserable woes and He sees our hurting hearts. But, He has better for us. And, when we obey, there is always blessing to follow.
Father God, thank You for the peace that comes with knowing that You listen and You see me. Little old me. Thank You also, for reminding us that conflict is never Your choice and that Your desire is for us to be in unity with one another. I love You so much, Lord. Amen.