The story of Hagar, the slave woman, is a sad one. Especially because it is God’s chosen people (Sarah in particular) who treat her so poorly. In Genesis 16, Hagar flees from Abraham and Sarah because Sarah mistreats her due to Sarah’s jealousy and disbelief in God’s promise that He would give her descendants. So she takes matters into her own hands and makes a big mess of things. I know many of us can relate to taking matters into our own hands, can’t we?
Because of this mistreatment, Hagar runs away, lonely and alone. However, she was not alone for long. Verse 7 of Genesis 16 says that the Angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert. In the verses that follow, this “Angel of the Lord” speaks to her, asks her questions, listens to her, instructs her in what to do and gives both Hagar and her unborn son a blessing.
In the Old Testament, there are other references to the “Angel of the Lord”, 2 Kings 1:3, Zechariah 1:8 among them. Many scholars believe the “Angel of the Lord” to be the person of Jesus Christ, sent down to minister to people. I love to picture Jesus in his preincarnate flesh sitting with Hagar in the middle of the desert, ministering to her wounded spirit, don’t you? I believe Hagar’s response to this encounter lends further credibility to this preincarnate Jesus belief. Look at verses 13 and 14 of Genesis 16. “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (which means well of the Living One Who sees me); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.”
Hagar had physical proof, from this visit from “The Angel of the Lord” that there was a God who saw her. He saw her mistreatment. He saw the unborn child in her womb. He saw the child’s personality and his future. Not only did He see, but He also heard. In fact, Hagar is told to name her son, “Ishmael”, meaning God hears.
At the end of her conversation with the “Angel of the Lord” he tells her to go back to Sarah. I can imagine it was a long walk home for Hagar. Can’t you picture her dragging her feet as she wondered what her consequences would be as a slave running away from her mistress? However, she had something to give her courage and sustain her for the duration of her days, an encounter with the “Angel of the Lord”. She had His voice reverberating in her ears . . . “I will so increase your descendants, they will be too numerous to count.” I believe that experience sustained her for the rest of her life, come what may.
What about you? Do you believe Jesus has seen what you’ve gone through? Can you picture Him sitting by you during your “time in the desert”, whether it was past or present? Go ahead, picture Him there now, in the midst of your pain, in the midst of your confusion, in the midst of your grief or disbelief. Whether you know it or not, He was there. He is there. He sees and knows because He’s there. He’s there ministering to your spirit. He is there listening to your cries for help. He is there instructing you in what to do. He’s there giving you strength to carry on.
He was there then, He is there now.
However, unlike Hagar who had a one-time experience with the “Angel of the Lord”, God offers us an encounter with Jesus each day through His precious Holy Spirit. While we each have encounters with Christ that mark us for the rest of our lives, don’t keep living on that long ago experience. Come to Jesus each day for a fresh encounter. Pour out your heart to Him. Sit quietly in His presence. Sing songs of worship to Him. Drink deep from the fresh well of His Word. These encounters give you the ability to obey Him and move forward no matter what you are walking back into day by day.
Jesus saw Hagar.
Jesus sees you.
Personal Reflection Questions
#1) Does it bring you comfort knowing Jesus sees what you are going through?
#2) Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus that changed you and allowed you to move forward in obedience despite a difficult situation or circumstance?
#3) What does Jesus see in your life today that needs His ministering presence? How will you slow down long enough to have a meaningful encounter with Him?
Your Friend in Ministry,