God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 21:17-18
God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son, but Sarah became impatient and decided to take matters into her own hands. She had lost her faith in God. Abraham, known for his faith, went along with Sarah’s plan. Enter Hagar.
Hagar was a slave of Abraham and Sarah. She had no power and no control over anything, including her body. So, when Sarah told Abraham to sleep with Hagar to produce a child, Hagar had no choice but to go along with it. Although Hagar would be the one to carry and birth the child (Ishmael), he would belong to Sarah.
Imagine being forced into surrogacy in 2021. Imagine having to watch your son being claimed by another woman, not because you agreed and were paid to do so like modern surrogates, but because a woman took God’s matters into her own hands. Now, imagine having to leave this place when God gives that woman the originally promised child (Isaac).
“Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac” (21:9). Other translations say that Ishmael was scoffing, teasing, and mocking. We don’t know, but we do know that they were children. More than likely it was the type of teasing that typically goes on between children.
Hagar never had a chance. She had served a purpose and when she became a threat, she was disposable. So, Abraham sent her and his first-born son away. Now, God has to make the best out of a human situation.
For the second time, Hagar and Ishmael leave home. The first time was when she was pregnant with Ishmael. She and Sarah had gotten into it. Sarah drove Hagar away. That time, God met Hagar in the desert and brought her back home. That was the time that Hagar named God, the one who sees me (Genesis 16).
The second time, Hagar and Ishmael ended up in the Desert of Beersheba and had run out of water. Hagar had run out of options and had given up on the God who had saved her the first time. Hagar was prepared to die and was determined not to watch her son die. So, she sat under a tree and waited for the worst to happen.
Hagar had been through a lot. She was in a bad situation because of the powerful people around her. Life was not fair to Hagar. She didn’t get the thing she wanted most, a loving home for her and her son. She received lemons instead. However, God made lemonade for her. She birthed a healthy baby boy and God made him into a great nation. The only thing Hagar needed to do was to let go of the past and trust God with her future.
There is a lesson in this for us today.
Sometimes, life is not fair. Sometimes, we don’t get the thing we want the most. Sometimes, we get lemons. Sometimes, to get our lemonade, we must embrace the power of letting go.
Prompt for Thought: Think of a time when life was unfair. How were you able to move forward? Reflect on how God helped you during this time. How did God become the God who sees you? What lessons did you learn?
Prayer for the Journey: God, sometimes life just isn’t fair. Yet, we can trust that you are ready, willing, and able to make lemonade from our lemons. Help us to remember that when things get rough. Help us to cry out to you and hear your answer us when we are in the desert places. Help us to remember your grace, your mercy, and your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.