ReDiscovering Lent-March 10

March1010 March – Lilian Samaan, Office Director, World Relief Chicago – God reaching to the margins

Genesis 16

Hagar never met the expected standards in the community in which she lived. She was always on the margins; even after marrying Abram, her life only seemed to get worse. As an Egyptian slave with no voice in Hebrew society, she was married to her master for one purpose: to bear a child. Of course, for a slave, this was considered an honor but, for Hagar, there was not much privilege in the experience. She was only going to be used and abused. Again.

Slavery, abuse, rejection, and mistreatment were only some of the things Hagar experienced. She was looked down upon, considered an outcast. She was marginalized, seen as unimportant and unworthy of respect. In Genesis 16:6, we read, “’Do with her what you think is best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.” Sarai used her unchecked authority to “humble” Hagar, mistreating her badly enough that she chose to flee; not only was Sarai’s behavior harsh, but it was clearly endorsed by Abram. Abram, who was supposedly Hagar’s husband, her support, her crown, her honor, her protector, and the father of her unborn child, became the very source of her pain. The hope of redemption through her husband had vanished. He had desserted her and thrown her into the fire.

Often, when we feel we are alone in our suffering and have lost all hope, all sources of human support seem to have disappeared and we flee our own pain and suffering, God shows up. God shows up big. He hears, He speaks, and we encounter Him. Genesis 16:7 says, “God found Hagar in the desert.” Right there in the middle of her cry and in her own desert, Hagar found God. No, wait. God found Hagar. As she was running away, as she was fleeing her oppressor, this pregnant slave was found by God. In this story about Hagar, God does not end her suffering (in fact, he asks her to go back and submit to Sarai, her oppressor), but He does redeem it. Through this personal and redemptive encounter, God gives Hagar a promise, a testimony, and a purpose – her suffering will not go to waste; her son will be born, and her descendants will be increased. That would be her honor and the redemption of her suffering.

This was Hagar’s testimony of the God she met in the desert: “’You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One how sees me.’” In Hagar’s eyes, God’s sovereignty became bigger than her suffering.

Friend, God sees your suffering, and not only does he hear your cry from the margins but he will redeem it and bring about a purpose through it. Will you choose to see the God that sees you in your suffering? Let Him show up and testify of His greatness in the midst of your suffering.

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