I began reading about God's promise to Abram, married to Sarai. He promised him a son. I've read this story many times, but never the way I've looked at it this week.
So Abram must have told Sarai of this promise and she does not believe God will give her and Abram a baby because they are too old. She decides to "play God" and make the baby happen her way, anticipating it will belong to her. She has a maidservant named Hagar, who must do anything that Sarai tells her to do. She has no choices. So Sarai TAKES Hagar and GIVES her to her husband. In other wards, against Hagar's freewill she forces her to have sexual relations with her willing husband Abram.
I can't see where God's promise was to anyone but Abram. Certainly God knew what was going to happen?
A baby is conceived. The step child, as far as Sarai was concern - Ismael. Hagar has contempt for Sarai. We are not told why but we can make assumptions. Perhaps she became prideful and felt a sense of power because she was going to be the mother of Abrams first born. Perhaps she was cold and bitter against Sarai because she was forced to have relations with Abram against her will. Either way bitteroot appears to have set in.
Sarai apparently feels this dissension and the blame game begins. Adam and Eve did this too. Everyone wants someone to blame when they make mistakes and don't want to own up to them, don't they? It's hard and nearly impossible for people to say they are sorry for hurting others when they do. We have an amazing way of twisting the scenarios around to make it someone else's fault. In this case, after pointing fingers at each other, they decide it's Hagar's fault. Hagar...remind you had no choice in the matter, she had to do what she was told. She was a servant.
After being probably beat and shamed, with no help from Abram, Hagar runs away. But God, through an angel, goes after her and tells her to go back and endure the harsh treatment from Sarai. My question is why? God does this several times...in the Bible. Our loving God tells us to instead of running away, go back and "take it". God doesn't leave her without a promise. He says that he will be giving her a son, Ishmael, which name means "God hears". He tells her that her son will have a great nation as well. Have you ever had to endure a abusive situation, and you wondered where God was in it? God heard your cries, just like he did Hagar.
So Hagar returns, because instead of laughing at God's promise, she trusts and believes it. So despite the abuse, she goes back and "takes it". Sometime later she delivers Ishmael. The promise that "God hears".
God changes Abram and Sarai's name to Abraham and Sarah. God seems to give us new names when he gives us new natures and let's us start again. He makes all things new and old things pass away. Abraham will become the father of "many nations". Unity.
God then comes to Abram and Sarai and gives them a NEW covenant. He gives them a fresh start. They will be given a child, and this covenant he is making will be through this son Isaac. He will also bless Ishmael. So Abraham and Sarah are named the Father and Mother of many nations. I'm not sure if either Abraham or Sarah believed God's promised, because they both laughed and doubted because they were so old.
Isaac is born and all seems peaceful, however sometime later, an incident occurs where Sarah catches Hagar and Ishmael making fun of Isaac. Now I can only assume that it's because the bitter root that grew in Hagar for being forced to have relations with Abraham by Sarah, then treated harshly, having her son be excluded from his birthright in her eyes made her feel hateful towards Isaac. It's hard not to get jealous when family members lift one child higher than the other. But God tells Abraham to send the servant Hagar away and do just as Sarah wants. He promises that he will bless Ishmael.
But...if you were Hagar would you have felt cheated? Not only by Abraham and Sarah, but also by God? Hagar is sent away with a little food, and water with her son on her shoulder and hope is lost when she runs out and lays her son down to die. As a mother and a step child, my heart aches for Hagar. God promises Hagar that Ismael will become a great nation and opens her eyes to see the well of water, and Ishmael grows to be successful. Perhaps if she would have stayed...the hate would have grown like Cain and Abel, but instead, God made a way.
We don't always understand God's decisions and direction, sometimes when other people make mistakes, we pay the price. But we can trust His promises that he will keep us in his care. God later sent his very own Son, Jesus, to be tortured and killed to carry the burden of our sins so that we can have free access to God. I hear people say, I couldn't have sent my son, I would have gone to take the pain myself. Exactly. God did something for us that we may never understand or grab hold of fully. But he did it. So even if God doesn't seem like he is there or that he understands, he let his Son take the punishment of your sins...because you are his adopted son's and daughters...and he let his son, Jesus, pay the price for you, because HE CHOSE YOU.
And unlike Cinder Ella's father, who did nothing to take away her pain and suffering, instead a Prince came and freed her from slavery and bondage. He gave her a new life, and a new name, Cinderella, and he gave her a new heart, that welcomed her step-mother and step-sisters in, even after all they had done. Just like Jesus does.
Our ways are not God's ways...but we can trust that God's way always has a happy ending.