A Glimpse of Godly Love
Human nature gets enamored with successful people but dismisses those who are perceived as lowly. We give fame and fortune to the successful, but we disdain those who fail.
Godly nature, however, loves and looks out for individuals without regard to social standing.
Genesis 16 tells a story of three individuals: Abram, Sarai, and Hagar. Abram’s name means, “Exalted father.” Sarai’s name means, “Noble lady.” Hagar’s name means, “Flight,” as in “to flee” or “to run away.” According to social standing, she is a ‘nobody.’
When Abram and Sarai cannot conceive a child and are well along in years, they make a decision to use Hagar as the means to get a baby. The ancient Babylonian law of that time, the Code of Hammurabi, stipulated that an infertile wife should provide her husband with a surrogate child-bearer. But that remained the only status Hagar was given under the law: Surrogate child-bearer. She didn’t become a second wife or a replacement wife; she was viewed only as the vessel through which Abram and Sarai would get their child. She remained insignificant…and that hurts!
It hurt even more when Sarai began to abuse her…and when Abram ignored the abuse.
A young woman whose blog site is titled, “The Journal of My Insignificant Life,” wrote something Hagar would have related to:
“If I don’t need love, why am I crying? If I don’t need love, why am I suffering? When I’m all alone, I feel like dying. My soul is ripping, so heart-breaking. ‘Cause I dream of love, though I tried to hate it. Yes, I dream of love, and I know I’ll never find it.”
In agony of soul, Hagar lives up to her name. She runs away.
But God—who cares for people without regard to social standing—reaches out to her. In a play on words, God’s angel asks her, “Flight (Hagar), servant of Sarai, from where are you fleeing? And to where are you flying?” (verse 8).
Up to this point Hagar may have been seen by others as merely a servant. She was named (and perhaps tagged) simply as a runaway. Her value may have been considered only as a vessel for the production of someone else’s baby. She was mistreated by Sarai, and ignored by Abram. But the Almighty God took a personal interest in her. In the pages of Scripture, she is the first woman whose conversation with God is recorded since God’s talk with Eve in the Garden of Eden. That’s rather special!
Even in her running away, God watched out for her, so she named the spring where God met her Beer Lahai Roi, which means “The Well of the Living One who Sees me.” And in her agony, God heard her cry, so she named her son Ishmael, which means “God hears.” She experienced the watchfulness of God and the attentiveness of God, so she gave testimony to God’s care for her!
She discovered for herself what Larry Crabb wrote about in his book, The PAPA Prayer: “It isn’t only nature that abhors a vacuum. God does too. But the vacuum He abhors is spiritual. He can see a dry riverbed and not fill it. But He cannot see an empty heart and walk away. His love won’t let Him” (p. 145).
And she found out the truth of what Jerry Sittser wrote in his book, A Grace Disguised: “To our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe who, despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely. In coming to the end of ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves. We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being” (p. 90).
Hagar met the One who loves us without regard to our successes or failures, and without regard to our social standing, but purely as a Father who cares deeply for His children!