Four thousand years ago, an Egyptian servant fled to the Arabian desert after being forced to marry her mistress’ husband and conceive a child. The son that grew in the servant’s womb was the result of the mistress trying to “help” God fulfill his promise of an heir. A bitter rivalry with implications reaching into modern day was born between mistress and servant. To escape the cruelty of her mistress, the pregnant servant fled to the wilderness.
This woman is Hagar. Her story is not that of a hero of our faith, but it’s one that resonates with me. Her story is for those who suffer for their obedience. Her story is for those who feel helpless or find themselves in the wilderness. Hagar was a woman who met God in the wilderness. Twice.
In our culture, we likely don’t experience a literal wilderness as Hagar did, but we can all relate to being in a figurative desert. Our wildernesses represent the barren spaces of our lives — where we feel desolate, empty, and hopeless. It’s not a physical place we go to; it’s a lonely space we live in.
The desert is a place of abandonment, but, through Hagar, we learn that we are not abandoned there. Our Father is with us in our fleeing. He’s still God in the wilderness. He pursues us in these barren spaces. He reveals himself to our hopeless souls. We are not alone in these lonely places. This is Hagar’s legacy.