It wasn't too long ago that I was pregnant with my first child. I still remember being so afraid. At first, our biggest concern was simply carrying him to term. Staying pregnant was so tough. At our 24-week doctor's appointment (which is the absolute earliest that a baby can be born and have a chance of survival), I remarked to the doctor, "I wasn't sure that we'd make it this far!" His response, "Neither was I!" We went on to celebrate these precious few weeks and all the hard work accomplished up until this point.
In the first few weeks of pregnancy (before 20 weeks), there's a fun little test that you can take. It's a genetic test that lets you know if you're at risk for a variety of birth defects. I was shocked to discover that we had a pretty high chance of having our firstborn born with Downs Syndrome. Throughout my pregnancy, that result hung over our head. Fast forward to 35 weeks, and you'd find me absolutely terrified. I had been referred to a specialist to have a more in depth ultrasound. There were measurements taken and soon a diagnosis (through more statistics) came back that said that instead of a 1 in 50 chance of my baby having Downs Syndrom, I was now down to a 1 in four chance. This doctor scared me horribly.
I truly believe that he misread our ultrasound as I had watched the tech zoom in for one photo and not zoom out for another. That "another" was the measurement he was referring to when he told me that my baby had a one in four chance of having Downs Syndrome. I immediately left that appointment and miraculously got in with a cardiologist to discover (confirm) that the previous doctor had misread some results. The worst part was that the original doctor that scared me so badly wanted me to come back weekly until my baby was born for these in depth scans. The thing is 35 weeks, I could have birthed my baby right then and there and he would have no issues surviving!
At this point, I was in for 3 nonstress tests a week. I went in and had another miraculous encounter. My doctor had heard that I was in the hospital having my nonstress test and decided to come in and have a chat with me. It was so perfectly timed because I just had bawled for an entire day, I was highly stressed, and just praying "God, do you see what's going on here?" I mean, what if my baby had Downs Syndrome? A baby with Downs doesn't scare me, but the financial situation we were in did. Making weekly trips to a hospital an hour away was a huge expense that we couldn't afford. If we can't afford simple gas to get places, how would we care for the needs of this child? It was in this moment that my doctor walks in, sits with me for thirty minutes (that he never charged us for), and released me from those appointments that I had so been dreading. Three weeks later, I had a perfectly healthy, downs syndrome free, baby boy.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? You're faced with the unknowns of your situation, scared out of your mind wondering "how am I supposed to do this? God, do you see me?" These are the wrong moments for someone to come in and ask, "How are you?" as they walk away without hearing the answer. These are the wrong moments to be made to feel invisible. "God, do you see me? Do you see the unknowns of my situation? Only you know."
I'm not the only one who has ever found myself in an impossible situation, nor am I the only one who has ever wondered if I'm visible to God and if He sees my situation. When my situation seems impossible, God can fix it. To God, nothing is impossible!
Here in Genesis 16, we come across two women who are at odds with each other. Sarai is the old woman that God promises a child from her own body. Hagar is Sarai's slave. God made the promise to Sarai, but after a waiting period when God hadn't made good on His promise, Sarai takes matters into her own hands. She offers Hagar as a surrogate to Abram (Abraham), who readily accepts his wife's request. God did promise a son, maybe God needed help? (No, God didn't, but this was their attitude).
Soon, Hagar is pregnant and this causes some pretty understandable issues. Jealousy, anger, frustration, blame, all of it is in the mix. Sarai starts treating Hagar so harshly that Hagar runs away.
God meets her- "The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness" (Genesis 16:7a). What I love about this is that by comparison to Abraham and Sarah, Hagar is insignificant. Abraham would be known for the rest of time, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob...." Hagar seems quite insignificant to the story as a whole, but God didn't see her as insignificant. He meets her right where she is.
God redirects Hagar- "Return to your mistress and submit to her." (Genesis 16:9) I don't know why God would have Hagar return to the exact harshness of that she was fleeing. Was it to change Hagar's attitude and offer peace to that household? Was it to serve as a reminder that Sarai created a mess that God never intended for her and her husband? Was it to provide some financial stability for Hagar and Ishmael? I don't know why God would have her return, but he does, with the command to submit to Sarai's authority. Whatever reason that God has her return, it's temporary (Genesis 21:12-13). God, eventually does release Hagar to go to the very home she was trying to flee to.
I think about how upsetting it would have been to hear the words "Return" spoken in this situation. My first reaction would be to say "no" but God doesn't leave things there. He listens to her. He extends the promise to her and her son. God has a plan and a purpose even when we can't clearly see it and even when we don't understand it!
God listened to her- "You shall call his name Ishmael, because God has listened to your affliction." (Genesis 16:11b) Ishmael's name means God Hears. God heard Hagar AND listened to her. It's one thing to hear the sounds coming from the direction of my face, it's another to comprehend the words and act appropriately. God heard her and then God did something about it. He gave her direction and he extended the promise to her. He didn't leave her stranded. He didn't leave her unprovided for. He didn't abandon her.
God extended the promise to her and her son- "I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude." (Genesis 16:10b) God extends the promise that He gave Abraham to include Ishmael. While Ishmael was not the child of the promise, God grafts him in. The promise: That God would make Abram's (Abraham) descendants "as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore." (Hebrews 11:12 NIV)
Hagar wasn't insignificant. God's action and attention told her that she was worth His time. You and I aren't insignificant. His action and attention towards us tell us that we are worth His time. Jesus died on the cross so that we could approach the throne with confidence.
What's Hagar's response to God's presence and the knowledge that He saw her? She named him, "You are the God of seeing." She felt that God saw her and that He understood her.
God sees you and me in our impossible situations. He wants us to approach Him in our time of need! He understands our perspectives, He understands our feelings, He's even willing to give direction and act! He truly and genuinely cares for you.
Let's Discuss! Comment Below!
In what way do you see God's attention and action in your own life?