Sarai was a fearful, selfish manipulator. Abram repeated Adam’s folly. Even though he heard the promise from God Himself, in unbelief he bowed to his wife’s fear. Hagar was the victim of their folly. Yet, what do they all have in common? They were (either justly or unjustly) unlovable. BUT GOD loved them.
Sarai is grasping at straws, and in her self-centeredness she blatantly sins against God and Hagar. Though alone and hurt, Hagar is sought out by the angel of the Lord who cares for and counsels her in her despair. She, in turn, is promised the blessing of an abundant family. We will also go on to see later how God neither cancels the covenant with Abram (to make him head of a great nation) nor removes Sarai from her place as wife and mother of this special family of blessing.
Are they finally done being fools, you may ask? Will they sit tight and let God fulfill His promise without trying to mess it up again? No, I’m afraid not. I am ashamed to say that just hours after I wrote the first draft of this somewhat scathing reflection on Sarai, I, myself, was guilty of trying to force God to surrender His blessing to me–in my timing. While there is much failure yet to come, it is God’s love for fools like Abram, Sarai, and me that is most noteworthy. And that same love is what the God of Life offers to you in whatever broken and/or foolish state you may find yourself today.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!’ But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.’
“The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord also said to her, ‘I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.'” – Genesis 16:1-10