Saturday, October 29, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

I think you know by now that my life is not perfect. If you don't, then allow me to let you into my world: the laundry is high, the dust is deep, the toys are strewn here and there, and the garage, . . . well, we won't talk about that.  And that's only the stuff you can see; there's the deeper struggles within too. However, do please come in and sit down. I've got coffee and a comfy sofa and we can hang out and talk for a while. I've even made some yummy pumpkin bread that you are welcome to enjoy.

I was only thinking yesterday how very much I wanted to sit and talk with a friend, and how much I'd love to be with you. You came to mind. All that you are going through right now and all that you are carrying; you have a load and I prayed for you. And I wished that we could find the time to get together. I wished I could do more than think of you and pray. I wanted to see you face to face. I wanted to look into your eyes and let you know that I care. I wanted to rest my hand on your shoulder and say to you that I am here for you. I am in your corner. You are my friend. I see the stuff you are dealing with and I see how much you need rest. I see you and you matter to me.

What would it mean to you to hear words like these spoken to you? 

I can tell you that for me, I'd probably start crying on the spot. There is something in me that wants to know that I matter. I want to speak and be heard. I want to be seen, not by the crowds,... but by someone. I need to know that I am not alone. 

Maybe that is why I love the story of Hagar.

Hagar was the maidservant of Sarai, Abram's wife. You may remember that when God promised Abram a son, the promise was not fulfilled right away. And after awhile, Sarai became impatient and took matters into her own hands. Sarai figured that to make God's promise a reality, He might need a little help. So, she told Abram to go sleep with her maidservant. Can you imagine suggesting that to your husband? "Well, okay, hon. Whatever you say."

We don't know all the details of how the scene played out, but I can imagine this "great" idea was not welcomed by Hagar. She had no say-so, no voice. No one asked Hagar what she thought about this plan. It seemed she didn't matter much except to be used for someone else's purposes.

And guess what? When it all worked out just as Sarai had planned, no one was happy. Hagar was pregnant and she "began to despise her mistress." This ticks off Sarai and she complains to Abram and even blames him for the wrong she is now suffering. Abram does not arise to the occasion, rather he avoids doing anything and hands the problem back to Sarai.

"Your servant is in your hands. Do with her whatever you think best." Now Sarai has permission from her husband to mistreat Hagar, and she does. Hagar, desperate and alone, runs away.

And here is where it gets good. Because God is about to enter in. Of course, He has been there all along, but He is about to reveal Himself to Hagar. He will soon make Himself known. Genesis 16 tells it like this:

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert... And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?"

"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." The angel added "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."

The angel of the Lord also said to her, "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery."

And she gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me."

Hagar has been alone. She was miserable. Yet who could she complain to? Who would listen to this servant girl with no status or power? God would. And God did. He saw what was going on. He was not unaware of Sarai's scheming or Abram's passivity or Hagar's bitter heart. He knew it all. And He told Hagar that she was heard.

It is so encouraging that God told Hagar that she was heard. God named her child according to that; Ishmael means "God hears." Then Hagar turns the table and gives God a name; she called Him the Living God Who Sees. Because when people fail to hear you, they also fail to see you. Or at least they don't see your soul. Hagar needed to know that she mattered to God. He personally saw to it that she received that message.

Thank you Father, for your Word. I get to see that everyone fails much like I do. I get to see that everyone has needs just like I do. I get to see that You are there and that You hear and that You see and that I matter to You.  And You have blessed me with friends that listen and care about me. You are good.

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