On Those Days When You Feel Used
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Hagar felt used.
Which is totally understandable. Because, quite simply, she was used—to provide a child for her master and mistress, Abram and Sarai.
God had promised them many children, but it hadn’t yet happened. Impatient with the waiting, they came up with their own plan for having a child: “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.’ And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal” (Genesis 16:1-2 NLT).
Of course, since childbearing was the mark of true womanhood in those days, as soon as she became pregnant, Hagar felt superior to her mistress, Sarai: “Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt.’ . . . Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away” (Genesis 16:5-6 NLT).
Hagar felt like a pawn in a dangerous game, and so she chose to run away, hoping for a new life when her baby was born. But there was nowhere to run except the wilderness. And she found herself with no food, no protection, no husband, and no future.
But God had not forgotten her. He was not blind to her need and desperation.
He sent an angel who “found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?’” (Genesis 16:7-8 NLT). After saying she had run away, Hagar was astonished to be told by the angel that God had heard her cry of distress; that she should return to her mistress; and that she would have a son and name him Ishmael. And that he would always be at enmity with his relatives.
From then on, “Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’” (Genesis 16:13 NLT). Stunned that the God of the universe cared enough to comfort and provide for her, Hagar turned now to El Roi, the God who sees.
Did you know that God sees you in your wilderness? “From His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth—he who forms of the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:14-15).
He knows when we feel used or abused. He sees what’s really in our hearts.
“He sees unforgiveness, unconfessed sins, the habits we cling to, the questionable shows we watch, and the literature we read. He sees the failures that we try to hold behind our backs, and He lovingly invites us to come out of hiding so He can clean up the mess we’ve made.” (Gwen Smith in “Broken into Beautiful”)
In parts of South Africa, a common greeting is “Sawubona!” which means, “I see you!” and the response is “Yebo!”—“Yes!”
Will you say yes today to El Roi when He greets you?
under the mercy, Cindy
©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
My new book Dwelling Places – Words to Live in Every Season by Lucinda Secrest McDowell contains a 40-day Lenten devotional “Renew” (as well as fall, Advent and summer) It arrives June 2016 from the good folks at Abingdon Press. Available in Paperback and Hardcover. During Lent 2016 I will include some of those devotionals on my weekly blog.