It stinks to feel unnoticed. When someone doesn’t see you, hear you, or understand you, it can cut deep into your insecurity and sense of worth. It’s an even deeper wound when it’s from someone that you love. Every one of us has experienced that type of painful rejection.
So did Hagar. Hagar often gets a bad rap in the Bible, but she is such a relatable and courageous woman. God sees and loves her when Sarah and Abraham reject her, revealing so much about his powerful engagement in our lives.
We are walking through women of the Bible this year and highlighting one woman each month as a blog post and podcast episode. We hope to gather a community of broken yet redeemed women both here and in the Bible so you can say “me too” about your struggle and not feel bad about it. Through their stories, we will discover the power of God’s presence in our lives and see that she is one of us. Who God is to her, he is to us.
For Hagar, let’s answer the question “who is she” with these three words:
I hated leading off with this word, but it identifies her desperate need for God. Sarah and Abraham used Hagar (Gen 16). God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child, an heir, and a people. When Sarah remained barren after many years, she problem-solved by offering her maid Hagar to her husband as a second-wife-baby-maker. Hagar was the answer to Sarah’s barrenness problem. Even though this solution was a common practice at this time, it was a human solution to a God-given promise, and Hagar was caught in the middle. If you are feeling used, remember: someone’s selfishness in your life cannot derail God’s purpose for you. Trust that God is bigger than someone else’s selfishness and sin.
Family relationships can be so confusing and conflictive. Hagar was rejected twice in this family. When she became pregnant with Abrahams’s baby, Hagar flaunted it in front of Sarah. Not good. She was then mistreated for the first time and humiliated by Sarah. Sarah chose her to carry the heir, yet she rejected Hagar within the same paragraph. Hagar was put in this situation, not by her choice, and was rejected. When she fled into the wilderness (Genesis 16), God told her to return, and she obeyed. She had her son, Ishmael. And, as a fulfillment of God’s promise, Sarah, too, had a son, Issac. All was well. Um..not really.
Hagar was rejected a second time (Genesis 21). Her now 16-year-old son, Ishmael, was “mocking” Isaac. Sarah was furious and asked Abraham to send both Hagar and Ishmael out. So, he did (21:14). They were sent into the wilderness and were without resources or a future.
Many of us have felt rejection on some level. Remember: when someone else’s choice leaves you lonely and without resources, God has not forgotten you.
In the midst of Hagar being used and rejected, God noticed her. To be noticed means to be seen, heard, noted, observed, spotted, sighted, perceived, discovered, recognized, and understood. On the flip side, to be unnoticed is to feel disregarded, forgotten, ignored, neglected, or overlooked. It feels ick! Although she went unnoticed for her value in Sarah’s family, God noticed her as his precious child and a key person as part of his story.
Look what God does. In the first rejection (Genesis 16), God:
- finds her
- calls her by name
- asks her two questions: Where did you come from? Where are you going? (for more on these questions, listen to Episode 2 of Car Chat Podcast).
- tells her to go back.
Hagar responds with (16:13): “You are the God who sees me, for she said, I have now seen the One who sees me.” And she obeys.
Then in her second rejection (Genesis 21), God:
- hears the cries of Ishmael and calls out to her.
- asks her, “What’s the matter?” Although he knows the answer, God wants her to see and admit the truth of her emotions and situation.
- opens her eyes to see the provision of a well that he has already provided.
You may feel unnoticed by strangers or those you love. You may feel unnoticed by God. I have. I’ve wondered, “What are you doing with me, Lord? I see you provide for everyone else, but I’m still stuck in this.”
Listen, God hears your cries, and he has already provided the very thing you need. Ask him to open your eyes to see his power and presence in your life. God calls you by name. There is powerful simplicity in that.
Hagar is one of us. She was used, rejected, and noticed. God showed up for her, called her by name, and provided for her in very specific and intimate ways. Who God is to her, he is to you.
Relax in that truth, my friend. And, believe.
* For more on Hagar, listen to Episode 2 of “Car Chat Podcast with Amy & Jamy.”