June 26, 2017
God Sees Me
June 26, 2017
The story of Hagar and Ishmael is intriguing on many levels. For Muslims this story connects their faith to Abraham (some of us studied Bruce Feiler’s helpful book “Abraham”). For women it lifts up difficult issues related to patriarchy. Artistically it pricks the imagination of writers, as in the novel and TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Modern readers may glimpse a nomadic culture vastly different from our own and yet find there the same problems of envy and pride that characterize dysfunction in our own families.
The part of the story that lifts our hearts to God, however, is less obvious. Hagar speaks about God in ways that even Abram seems to have missed. Alone in the wilderness after she runs away from her mistress, who mistreats her now that she is carrying Abram’s child, Hagar hears God’s messenger speak to her. God had promised Abram many offspring, and He promises Hagar the same. She then does something no one before her has done: she gives God a name. Scholars puzzle over the exact translation of the Hebrew name here but agree it means something like, “I have seen God and God has seen me.”
To see God and remain alive is astonishing. More astounding is that God sees the distress of this outsider – an Egyptian slave-girl, a nobody with no earthly protector – and God brings her into His promises. God’s blessing continues to be felt, even among the least ones of us. Even when we find ourselves in a wilderness of our own making, God sees us and comes to us.
Questions for the Field
- There is no happy ending for Hagar’s story. Is there a resolution?
- Who are today’s outcasts and surrogates? Does God’s response to Hagar carry any hope for them? In what ways can we show God’s presence to them?
- Are there times when you have experienced God’s presence in a “wilderness”?
Family Field Talk
- Imagine you are a child in a family of nomads in a desert country. Describe what your life is like.
- Who else besides your immediate family goes with you? What are your everyday needs?
- How would you know that God is with you in the desert? How do you pray to God?
God of hope, come to us when we are most alone. Fill us with the joy of your presence. Come to the refugees, the outsiders, the helpless, and those in slavery. Fill them with your promise of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.