Since I am up working on my Old Testament paper, I thought I would take a break to quickly reflect upon a sometimes overlooked figure in the bible. One of the narratives from the Old Testament that captures my imagination is the story of Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai (later Sarah), wife of Abram (Abraham). I feel such empathy for her whenever I read it. Sarai tells Abram to have relations with Hagar because she is unable to provide him with a child. Immediately after she learns that Hagar conceived a child, Sarai regrets her own suggestion and becomes violently jealous. To please his wife, Abram tells Sarai that she may deal with Hagar as she pleases...and she does something harsh (we’re not told what) that makes Hagar flee.
The Angel of the Lord visits her, comforts her, and directs her to accept her duty. She returns to Sarai and submits to her (Gen. 16:1-15). This pattern is again repeated after the child, Ishmael, is born. Sarah’s anger is reawakened as she sees her son Isaac and Hagar’s son Ishmael playing together. She wants them gone. God lets Abraham know what his will is regarding Isaac and that he should honor the request of his wife. Hagar, once again in a desperate situation, panics when her water runs out and abandons Ishmael under a bush in the wilderness.
The Angel of the Lord visits her, comforts her, and directs her to accept her duty (Gen. 21:1-21). The formula is not lost on me. As I prepare for my September weekend of classes, I am comforted by this story about Hagar. We all feel overwhelmed at times, knowing that there is more to be done than hours in the day will allow. And in the moments when we need Him the most, when our bodies and minds are exhausted, Christ visits us in prayer, comforts us as only He can, and after we have received His refreshing grace, He lovingly instructs us to accept our duty and get back to work.