The baking desert cooled rapidly as the sun tucked itself away for the night. Hagar welcomed the darkness. It matched her mood.
She was alone. So alone. She had fled, and no one knew or cared where. Thankfully, she had found a spring to camp by for the night. Desert days were long and hot, and the water was a momentary refuge from fatigue and hunger.
Physically refreshed, she used her renewed energy to build a fire to see her through the night, but even a bit of food and the fire's warmth did not improve the dark mood. She had packed carelessly in her haste, and now she must use sparingly what few supplies she had. She just could not shake the foreboding feelings. What did her future hold now?
As if trying to do their part to lift her spirits, insects offered their evening lullabies while the fire crackled cheerfully. Normally soothed by these sounds, Hagar's eyes stared unseeingly into the fire while her emotions churned.
She and Sarai had been as close as any sisters. Sarai had always been so beautiful, like a princess, and Hagar had openly admired her mistress. She knew Sarai had waited for years to see The Promise from her god fulfilled. Truth be told, Hagar was a bit envious of Abram and Sarai. Who was this god who related so personally with her masters? Why did he favor them so?
In spite of the occasional feelings of envy, Hagar had enjoyed serving Sarai. She was blessed by the relationship they had shared. She had grieved with Sarai as month after barren month passed. She was surprised Abram and Sarai had waited ten years to consider the obvious solution - Hagar could provide an heir for her masters.
She had conceived right away and was unprepared for the pride which welled up within her, causing her to torment her mistress and friend. She had taunted Sarai without mercy. She knew it. And now she felt hollow sitting here alone.
But she shoved the shame away as the ugly scene from this morning replayed in her mind. How dare she? How could Sarai have treated me that way?
Her heart twisted painfully as she recalled Sarai's bitter face and harsh words. "Abram has said I might do to you as I please, and I am sick to death of your arrogant smugness! Just because you carry the baby which will fulfill God's promise to us does not give you the right to despise me!" The sharp words had stung more than the hard slap across her face.
Afraid of what else might follow and not wanting to hear more, Hagar had fled the tent of her mistress. She now masked her loss and pain with resentment and self-pity. You will do nothing to me now, will you, Queen Sarai? For you know not where I am! You have lost me forever, as well as your precious promise.
Sitting alone in the desert wilderness - in the wilderness of her self-pity - Hagar felt no satisfaction in the justice she imagined she had delivered. How many more days would it take to reach her Egyptian homeland? Would she ever see Sarai again? Would her meager supplies last? How would she survive now that she'd abandoned her source of livelihood? Would she and the baby she carried be okay? She bowed her head and wept hot, bitter tears.
"Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" The air vibrated with the question spoken unexpectedly into the dark desert night.
Startled, Hagar responded, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."
Hagar had made camp in the wilderness. The Angel of the LORD had heard and seen all that concerned her. He rescued her from the wilderness of her despair. Now she also knew the God of Abram and Sarai, and He favored her as well. He made her a promise of her own regarding her child. He told her to return to her mistress, but she knew she would not go alone. He was with her. She had encountered Him - God Who Sees.
We too can find ourselves in the wilderness. Sometimes our hearts lead us to set up camp in a wilderness of resentment and self-pity. Sometimes we cannot see through the blindness of offense, or the fog of pain or fear. It is then that we must remember we can rest in God's care, for we serve a God Who sees.
Taken from Genesis 16, NKJV.
Knowing both the freedom of surrender and the pain of resistance, Cheri desires to bring God's hope to others suffering in life's deserts. She and husband Wayne have been blessed with four children and three grandchildren. Contact Cheri at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2007 Cheri Hardaway
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