“And she (Hagar) called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, ‘Thou God seest me:’ for she said, ‘Have I also here looked after Him that seeth me.’”
Genesis 16: 13
King James Version
“Never Forgotten; Never Alone”
Our God Is Merciful
“Among the attributes of God, although they are all equal, mercy shines with even more brilliance than justice.”
Miguel de Cervantes
Is there someone in my life to whom I can show God’s gift of mercy?
“God’s boundless mercy is
like to the ever-wealthy ocean
which though it sends forth
thousand streams, ‘tis never
known, or else seen to be the emptier;
and though it takes all in,
‘til no more
full, and filled full, than when
full filled before.”
“We hand folks over to God’s mercy, and show none ourselves.” - George Eliot
Her name was Hagar. In the Hebrew, no meaning is found for this name – she is identified only as an Egyptian slave and the mother of Ishmael. It’s not surprising that she seems to be diminished in the records of history. Hagar was just a castaway – a give away – a throw away. Like so many of the trampled upon throughout history, she probably would hardly have been noticed except for the events recorded in Genesis 16.
But before we examine our text for today, I want to go back in time to a day when God, through His grace, identified a man – Abram – and told him that he was chosen. We put a great deal of emphasis on the fact that God called Abram and chose him to be the “father” of a great nation, and rightly so. But why did God call Abram? What was at the “heart” of God’s call? Was it so Abram could become the richest man on earth? Was it so he could be the wisest? Was it so Abram would become the head of the most powerful nation ever known? Or did God have another reason? Genesis 12: 2 holds the answer when God tells Abram, “I have chosen you to be a blessing.” Quite simply, isn’t this the reason God embraces each of us and invites us to then embrace others. For as we open ourselves to the flow of God’s love through us, we will pass on our heaven-sent gifts to others.
Abram and Sarai were chosen by God to be a flowing fountain of God’s blessing to others. It is critical to note, God didn’t put any “limiting factors” on His call to sharing. God didn’t say, “Abram and Sarai, only pass on my blessings to your family or to the people you like.” Instead, God’s call to all of us is that we will share the best heaven has given with everyone. As Jesus instructed us, even our enemies.
Sadly, instead of sharing the blessings, Abram and Sarai, over and over again, showed a lack of confidence in God’s promises and what is worse, even stooped to treating one of God’s daughters, Hagar, in a cruel and abusive manner.
I have to tell you, I might have expected Hagar to look at Abram and Sarai and say with utter contempt and hatred, “If this is what your God is like, if this is what your God demands, I want no part of your God. Don’t tell me about your God.”
And you know this is exactly what has happened throughout history. God’s children, individuals who take the name of the God of heaven or call themselves by the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, instead of being waters of life to those who need healing the most, dam ourselves up until we become stagnant pools of water that not only give out toxic waste to those who need the clear, clean refreshment God offers, but have also a “polluting” effect on each other. When I see Christians, even in the same religious denomination, arguing about some theological issue and allowing their bitter arguments to divide God’s children, I cringe at the thought of what the “Hagar’s” see. For from the outside looking in, as we have seen very vividly this week, sometimes God’s chosen ones look very pathetic and mean and harsh.
And yet – and how I love this – just because God’s chosen flub-up, doesn’t mean He walks off and leaves all of us. Nor does it mean He will let our mistakes poison a Hagar to the point where she cannot even recognize the characteristics of her Father, God.
In spite of the fact that Hagar was taken from Egypt by force; impregnated by coercion; and then abused by the very people who should have been God’s example to her, Hagar still, when in the desert fleeing for her mental and physical welfare, called the God of Abram and Sarai, “the God who sees me.” This is tantamount to saying, “Thank you God, for I know now that somebody cares about me. At least you do.”
Isn’t this a magnificent testimony to the mercy of our God? He follows our every step, no matter how painful and heartbreaking, no matter how ill-treated we have been, even by some of His other children who should know better, yet He follows us into the desert with the “Angel of the Lord” for protection and His fountain of water and bread of life.
I know today I’m thankful I can call my God, “the God who sees and cares for me!” Aren’t you?
“The desert waits,
ready for those who come,
who come obedient to the Spirit’s leading;
or who are driven,
because they will not come any other way.
The desert always waits,
ready to let us know who we are --
the place of self-discovery.
And whilst we fear, and rightly,
the loneliness and emptiness and harshness
we forget the angels,
whom we cannot see for our blindness,
but who come when God decides
that we need their help;
when we are ready
for what they can give us.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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