Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” – Gen. 16:9 NIV
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Sarai, the wife of Abraham, who was later renamed Sarah by the Lord, having concluded that she was getting old and the Almighty God had kept her from having biological children of hers, decided to offer her Egyptian maid servant named Hagar to her husband, Abram, hoping to build a family through her – Gen. 16:1-2; 17:5-6; 15. Abram, who himself was also renamed Abraham and who by then had lived in Canaan for ten years with Sarai, accepted her offer and her expectation was met when in no time, Hagar did conceive, only for her to begin to despise her mistress for not being able to conceive for Abram – Gen. 16:3-4. This as expected did not go down well with Sarai who chose to blame Abram for the disrespect she was getting from Hagar. Abram’s response was very straightforward. She retained all the rights to her maidservant and could implement whatever decision she felt was appropriate. Without hesitation, she decided to equally mistreat Hagar and not being able to tolerate the mistreatment she was receiving from Sarai, Hagar decided to run away – Gen. 16:5-6.
She was later to be met by the angel of the Lord near a spring in the desert, who advised her to go back to her mistress and submit to her and in the process, the angel revealed to her, the positive plans of the Lord for the child and her generation in general – Gen. 16:7-12.
Most commentaries about this event will quickly criticize the loss of faith of Sarai and her decision to implement a plan that is expected to save her from the embarrassment of her supposed barrenness, without being patient with or hearing from the Lord. As much as this may be true, there is the possibility of the Lord being the originator of this move that Sarai may have made unconsciously, as the revealed plan of the Almighty God for Ishmael, who was the product of this act, seems to indicate – Gen. 16:10-12. One would think that such lofty plans of the Lord for Ishmael will not have been, if the Almighty God was totally against or was not in support of the actions of Sarai.
However, more obvious are the following;
- Though Sarai may have intended to gain an advantage when drawing up and implementing the plan, her actions definitely provided a huge opportunity for Hagar to experience uplifting from the position of a maidservant to that of a concubine. That was an act that one would have expected Hagar to be grateful for, but which her subsequent actions did not indicate.
- Hagar indeed displayed ingratitude and arrogance to her benefactor by despising her, thus making her regret her good intention, that lifted her into the role of a concubine for Abram – Gen. 16:4.
- She instead almost broke a home that was operating in peace, despite their challenges because of her act of ingratitude, had Abram not applied wisdom. It would have been a difficult experience for him, to see the one who is carrying his long desired offspring being so treated, so much that she had to flee with his unborn child.
- She obviously did not realize that it was in the Will of God to determine what anyone was going to become else she would have known that her being able to conceive was not due to her perfection neither was imperfection, the reason for Sarai being unable to conceive until that moment.
One can only imagine the mental torture that Hagar’s action placed on Sarai. Her well intentioned act had suddenly become the source of a potential loss of the control of her home and had produced a greater stress than the problem she was trying to solve. No doubt, she would have been full of regret for providing Hagar with such an opportunity, even if she was also going to benefit from such move. For such an individual and like several people today, she will think twice if she finds herself in a position to promote any other person in the future.
Either as a consequence of direct or shared experiences, many people are resolved not to render opportunities to anyone, especially when there is a chance of them becoming victims of such help, should the one that is being helped turn out to be an ingrate. That probably explains the drastic reduction in the number of people that are receiving desperately required help, needed for success in life, as they fear that they may find themselves in the same situation that Sarai found herself. Although this should never stop anyone from helping another to move up in life, it will still require several sermons to stop such decisions from becoming the norm as many ingrates seem to be escaping the repercussion of their acts of ingratitude.
Hagar was however not that lucky, as she was not saved by the one she felt would save her, which is Abram, from the consequence of her act of ingratitude and could equally not stand the same treatment she readily meted out to her benefactor. She consequently experienced a reversal in fortune as her life swung again from being a concubine to becoming a fugitive, after experiencing the good fortune of transiting from being a maidservant to being a concubine. She lost the comfort of a home to become a resident of a desert, the comfort of which can never be compared to what obtained in the household of Abram and Sarai, either as a maidservant or better still, as a concubine. She had no one else but herself to blame for the downturn of events in her life, and just as the angel advised her, the solution and path to restoration was not in self pity or looking for someone to blame. There was only one solution and that was for her to retrace her step back to her mistress and submit to her. Of course the journey back will include the admission of being an ingrate, resolving to swallow all pride and embracing humility rather than being egocentric. Until these are done, there will be no opportunity to even come before her mistress, more so display submission.
Most Christians today are in a state where they have been suddenly brought down from positions of grace and they still cannot understand that it is likely due to their mismanagement of the opportunity they earlier enjoyed and will rather choose to blame the individual or event that was simply the divine tool, used to effect their demotion. They will rather go round seeking all kinds of support to defeat this imagined enemies when the simple and only solution will be to swallow their pride and submit to that individual or situation.
Your physical status may change but you cannot ignore or wipe off the life you lived before becoming this new person that you are priding in. No matter who you become, the hand that lifted you up must not be made to have regrets. Agreed, such hand was used by God but that is still the hand that was used and no other. It is not possible to claim to be grateful to God when all you do is to despise his tool for your uplifting. It may be impossible to avoid the consequence of such act of ingratitude if such a tool reports you to the one that you acknowledge to have lifted you up. Like Abram reminded Sarai concerning Hagar, your destiny may just be in such hands, who may be in turn, decide to react in a manner similar to the treatment that you have been meting out.
Avoid sudden fall or any fall for that matter from the position of grace due to ingratitude and if you are already experiencing such, do not waste your time any longer. Just identify that benefactor to whom you have been ungrateful to, track your way back and submit and you will definitely be restored. May God grant you the sincerity and humility to do the needful in Jesus name. Amen.