Surprising, That's Good! Awesomely Surprising, That's God!
Read Genesis 16:1-14
If you are like me, you sometimes find commercials on TV entertaining. At this time, we’re having fun watching the Geico ads that talk about surprising things. We have laughed at Washington crossing the Delaware Turnpike, the running of the bulldogs and even Caesar on a Caesar salad. Surprising to be sure. Yet, if we really want to be surprised and amazed, we don’t need to look any further than the pages of the Bible. It is here where we encounter an awesome God Who surprises us with His amazing love. We could find expressions of that love from Genesis to Revelation, but for today, let’s be amazed again as we glimpse God’s heart, made known to Hagar and us, as He interacted personally with Her, Genesis 16:1-14. Why look at Hagar? Though her life was different than ours, we can identify with what she no doubt felt. May I explain?
Hagar had no power over her circumstances. Evidently, she was given to Abram while he was in Egypt, Genesis 12:10-20. From our text, we know Hagar was Sarai’s servant, and her opinion was not sought when she was given to Abram. No one wondered if Hagar wanted to give birth to a child that would be Sarai’s. How often we or someone we love can identify with Hagar. Circumstances beyond our control come uninvited into our lives. No, we aren’t slaves, but we find ourselves dealing with circumstances that we cannot alter.
Hagar’s attitude was not pristine. Although she was dealing with circumstances that were by no means good, our text indicates that she began to despise Sarai. Can we understand how being pregnant might have given the servant a bit of a feeling of power over things? Oh yes, she was able to do something her mistress could not. How easy it would be to hold that over her mistress’ head, if only through a word here or a look there. We too can react in wrong ways when we are in the midst of difficult circumstances. We can be the ones who stir up strife.
Hagar was running from her problem, not even looking for God. When the going got rough, Hagar fled, Genesis 16:7. Where was she going? A pregnant woman alone with no resources? She had no GPS or cell phone and apparently, there was no one who might help her along the way. We have been in her sandals. We flee, maybe we don’t physically run away, but sometimes we check out of situations, forgetting to ask for help from the Lord or even not knowing that He can make a way. Sometimes, we run out of ideas. We wear ourselves out, but we can’t think of anyone who may have the means to help us.
Now we’re ready for the surprise. There she was. A woman with no power to affect her circumstances. She was running away. She had no resources, and her attitude was not one of humility. Who would think that the Living One Who Sees would choose to make Himself known to this woman at this time? Wouldn’t we think that He would do that for David after he expressed the fact that the Lord was no match for Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:31-37? Or perhaps He would make this awesome name known to Joseph right after he fled from the wicked wife of Potiphar, Genesis 39:1-12? Or perhaps we might think that He would make Himself known to Joshua and Caleb when they boldly stood for Him when the other ten spies bailed on the Lord’s ability to defeat the people who were living in the Promised Land, Numbers 14:1-8?
Surprise! The Lord made Himself personally known to Hagar, Genesis 16:13-14. He showed her that He knew who she was and He told her what she must do. She would still be Sarai’s mistress. That didn’t change. What did change was her knowledge that she was seen, truly seen by the Living One. This picture from Genesis is precious. God sees us too, even in the times when it would seem unlikely that we would experience His love. Helplessness, wrong attitudes and even running away don’t stop God’s love. In truth, we are all much like Hagar much of the time. Surprise, our inability and sin is no surprise to God, Romans 3:10-20; Romans 5:6-11.
Do you know any Hagars? People who aren’t looking for God’s help? People whose attitudes are wrong? Wouldn’t it be just like Hagar’s God to surprise them with His love? Wouldn’t we be surprised to hear that they have encountered the Living One Who Sees them!