Genesis 16:8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are your going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”
Hagar, Sarai’s maid ran away from her because she mistreated her. She suffered an injustice at the hands of her mistress.
How many of us have suffered injustices at the hand’s of another? We see and hear of it all the time in our world as evil grows more prevalent. The mistreatment of children, women and even the elderly. God sees all the injustices that are taking place in our world and He cares!
The angel of the Lord told Hagar to go back and submit herself to Sarai.
Genesis 16:9 The Angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.”
I have often wondered why God would ask Hagar to go back into a situation where she was being mistreated. It seems so unjust; so unfair. The heart of compassion that I have for the hurting says, “no, run away, as far away from it as you can get.” And yet, my ways are not God’s ways. He often asks us to do things that seem to us as “over the edge”. But God had a plan to bless Hagar’s life and if she had continued to run away from her uncomfortable situation it would have changed the course of God’s plan for her life.
The angel of the Lord went on to tell Hagar a little bit about that plan:
Genesis 16:11, 12 And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
The name Ishmael means “God hears”. God heard Hagar’s crying; He saw her distress and He came to her aid. God understands and cares about the injustices in our lives. He is a restorer of those things that have been stolen from us. He blesses us in the midst of the injustices and gives us a glimpse of the good future that He has in store for us. Even though Ishmael would be a man that would constantly be in disagreement with his brothers, Hagar knew that God saw and heard and understood her situation and was there to bless her through it.
Genesis 16:13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “have I also here seen Him who sees me?”
Hagar was in the desert. There was no one around her. She had sat down by a spring of water in the wilderness and yet God saw her there; He came to meet with her in her despair and disappointment. She called His name El Roi, the God who sees.
God sees everything that happens to you. He is aware of the injustices and He often directs us to stand up and confront the wrongs in our lives because until we confront the fears that come along with the injustices we are held in bondage to the lies of the enemy. God asked Hagar to go back and submit herself under Sarai’s hand. There was something that God wanted to do in Hagar’s life that meant that she would have to submit herself unto her mistress. We can’t fully understand God’s ways until we do things His way. Submission is God’s way. He asks us to submit to those in authority over us so He can have an open channel to work through. As long as we are adamantly set on doing things our way in our time we are not open to allowing God to work in His way and timing. It is as we submit to those over us that we prepare an open avenue for God to move in our situations.
I remember a time in my working career when I was employed as an office manager for an insurance agent. He was a former military man, very harsh in his mannerisms and communications with people; definitely not a “people person”. He had me in tears my first day before noon and yet God had given me the job; I knew I was there at His will and every time I prayed about leaving He would not release me. This one particular time I was very upset about a situation that he had asked me to deal with in relation to a person in the community that I felt was not my place to handle. It was regarding something personal and even though I was his office manager I felt that he should have handled his own personal communications. I had prayed about the situation that morning and as a part of my devotions that day I was reading out of a Bible that I had purchased to give to one of the youth in our church. It was a New Century translation and I was reviewing it for accuracy before giving it to the Youth Director. My reading that morning was in Ecclesiastes 10. I began in verse 1 and when I got to verse 4 the Lord spoke to my heart:
Ecclesiastes 10:4 Don’t leave your job just because your boss is angry with you. Remaining calm solves great problems.
I was floored! I had just prayed about leaving my job, one more time. I was miserable in his employment. Such injustices constantly happened. Every new employee we would hire would cry on my shoulder because our employer was so harsh and difficult to work for. They never stayed and yet God wouldn’t let me leave! Why, Lord! I don’t understand why I have to stay and others get to leave. God knew I needed preparation to lead through submission to the authority over me. He continued to speak to my heart through 1 Peter 2:18-23:
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps; “Who, committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
Could this really be God’s way? Does He really want us to bear with those who are harsh and hard to get along with? Jesus gave us an example by not reviling in return for the injustices done to Him but instead committing Himself to Him who judges righteously. He turned the injustices over to God for Him to deal with.
God always has a “come back” for every “set back” you encounter!
Romans 12:17-21 says: Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Now, before you leave saying that I am in favor of women and children staying in abusive situations, please listen to my heart. I believe the key here is found in verse 18: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. There are some situations where it is just not possible to live in peace. Those would be the situations of extreme abuse, where a person’s life is in danger. I do not believe God wants a woman to stay in a relationship where her life is in danger or the lives of her children are at risk. Put distance between you and the abuser! God is in the delivering business and He will make a way for you to be freed from the abuse. Take it and then let God deal with the abuser!
But in situations such as I have described in my experience with my employer, He had a blessing waiting for me that could only happen if I stayed in that situation. As my employer progressed towards retirement God impressed upon his heart to reward me for the years of service in his employment. He always paid me well; he never wanted me to work if it was snowing outside. He would begin pacing and looking out the windows as it snowed until he would finally say, “I think you need to go home; I don’t want you driving in the snow.” When he sold his agency at retirement he told the new agent that I was a part of the deal; if he didn’t keep me in his employment and honor my salary and benefits he would not sell his agency to him. It wasn’t until three years after his retirement that God released me from working in that agency and gave me a new place of employment in my own town close to my home. I worked for him for eight years and three years longer in the employment of the new agent. During that time I learned the beauty of submission and how God blesses people through their attitude of humility towards those who are in authority over them.
1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,
God resists the proud, but gives grace, unmerited favor, the ability to do in and through you what you can’t do for yourself, to the humble. When you submit yourself to the authority over you, you are opening the door for God’s grace to move into your life. And in due time He will exalt you; He will lift you up and bless you as you cast your cares upon Him.
God always has a “come back” for every “set back” in your life.
This morning I ask you these questions: “Where have you come from and where are you going?” What are you running away from? Are you fearful of the injustices that have been done to you? Are you allowing God to be your defender or are you trying to defend yourself? God has a blessing with your name on it! The centurion in Matthew 8:8, 9 told Jesus that he knew the power of authority because he, himself, was a man under authority and he said to his soldiers that were under him ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes. He then told the Lord to only speak the word and his servant would be healed. The power of submission to authority! Jesus responded to him:
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
Could it be that submission to authority is tied to God’s idea of “great faith”? According to Jesus it is.
Father, I thank You for seeing every injustice done to Your children. I thank You, Father, for protecting the defenseless ones. Thank You for delivering them from harm and protecting them from evil. Father, for those who are struggling with submitting to the authority that You have placed over them, I pray for them to have courage to live at peace with those around them. I pray that You will show them that You are working in their situations. That you are bringing deliverance and freedom as they submit themselves to you and their superiors. Be close to the brokenhearted, Father, and heal their hurts. Strengthen them and give them peace! Thank you, Father! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
God has a “come back” planned for every “set back”! Will you believe in Him?