“…And when Sarai dealt hardly with her (Hagar), she fled from her face. And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, when camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?’ And she said, ‘I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.’”
Genesis 16: 6-8
King James Version
“Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen –
Too Many Wives in the Bed –
Too Many Children in the Tent”
Our God Is Long-suffering and Patient
“But longsuffering is great and strong, and has a mighty and vigorous power, and is prosperous in great enlargement, gladsome, exultant, free from care, glorifying the Lord at every season, having no bitterness in itself, remaining always gentle and tranquil. This longsuffering therefore dwelleth with those whose faith is perfect.”
What does the word “long suffering” mean to me?
How can I be “long suffering” and patient in my life?
“Be as patient with others as God has been with you.”
“But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
Psalm 86: 15
King James Version
I don’t believe I’m out-of-line saying that all of us, at least once in our lives, maybe even many more times have said, “I just can’t take this anymore.” It may be a relationship gone sour. Or a marriage that has broken apart. Or a job that has pinned your back against the wall and crushed you with stress. Quite possibly there have been times when life itself has seemed too much and you scream out, “I can’t take anymore.”
This is exactly what happened to Hagar. She had been taken out of Egypt – against her will. She’d been used to conceive a baby – against her will. Now to add insult to injury, Sarai, her owner and boss, was, as the Bible tells us, treating her “hardly.” The Hebrew word “hardly” means to browbeat, to abase, to afflict and hurt. The fact is Sarai was abusing Hagar. I ask you, how could one of God’s daughters inflict pain on one of her sisters? It is unconscionable. Yet it happens all the time. Sad to say, even today.
Sarai heaped her abuse on Hagar and, one day this slave girl had it. She decided death in the desert would be better than life with Sarai. So she fled into the harsh desert where cold nights and hot days were enough to kill the strongest man. But in the case of Hagar, the harsh elements were inflicting damage not on just one life but two. While it appears Hagar knew she was pregnant when she left Sarai’s tent, in Genesis 16:11, we find the angel of the Lord saying to her, “Behold, thou art with child.” Confirming to her what she already thought was happening. And then the angel said, “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands” (Genesis 16: 9).
At first I found this to be a perplexing directive. Why would God want one of His daughter’s to be treated abusively? First of all, as several Biblical scholars noted, if Hagar had stayed alone wandering the desert by herself, she would most likely have died. A pregnant girl without food and water wouldn’t have survived for long. Second, there were societal and Biblical protections for Hagar as a pregnant woman carrying Abraham’s heir, and for the sake of her child, I believe she returned and it appears for a time she was able to make the best of a difficult situation.
I want to remind all of us – this whole destructive situation was not God’s making nor was it part of God’s plan. So often our Heavenly Father gets the blame for our messes, when in fact without His patience and long suffering things would be much worse.
As we see in today’s story, God took careful note of the unkind treatment of Hagar. When she fled the hand that abused her, He followed her every step out of camp and sent an angel to protect and lead her to a place of safety. Then God promised Hagar that He would not forget her offspring, for her child would produce a great nation.
Yesterday we found that contempt sows a field of hate. Compassion sows a field of healing. Today we need to learn that even though patience may seem bitter while we wait, in the end as Lida Clarkson so beautifully penned, “Patience produces fruit that is sweet.”
I’m thankful our long suffering and patient Father doesn’t leave us when we flee because we’ve had enough. Instead, He surrounds us in His arms of love and brings us home into His protection and where His promise for our life will be fulfilled.
“While there is patience and humility,
there is neither anger nor vexation.”
Francis of Assisi
“Patience and time do more than strength or passion.”
Jean de la Fontaine
“O God, give us patience when those who are wicked hurt us. O how impatient and angry we are when we think ourselves unjustly slandered, reviled and hurt! Christ suffers blows upon his cheek, the innocent for the guilty; yet we may not abide one rough word for his sake. O Lord, grant us virtue and patience, power and strength, that we may take all adversity with goodwill and with a gentle mind overcome it. And if necessity and thy honour require us to speak, grant that we may do so with meekness and patience that the truth and thy glory may be defended, and our patience and steadfast continuance perceived.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.