The Surrogate Mother
Lord God, I praise You for burdens lifted, sins forgiven, hope restored. I’m glad to be with You now.
Read Genesis 16:1-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We are an impatient people. Our particular idolatry is the idolatry of the immediate, short cuts, quick results, right now success” (John N. Gladstone).
After reading this chapter, I engage with the rising and cascading feelings of the women who dominate the story. Ten years of living in the land have passed, but still no son, despite the renewed promise in 15:4. Sarah’s stratagem is somewhat similar to Abram’s in ch. 12, with resonances from Genesis 3: she follows a common-sense course rather than pursuing the promise. The triangle of what Derek Kidner calls “false pride (4), false blame (5), false neutrality (6)” quickly follows. Reflect on the “seeing” that takes place in this chapter: the pregnant maid’s ruthless gaze in v. 4: “her mistress became contemptible in her eyes.” The angel of the Lord (who turns out to be the Lord himself, v. 13) does not lose sight of Hagar in the wilderness. Hagar, in amazement asks, “Have I caught sight of the back of the One who sees me?” and names the place, “Well of the Living One who sees me.” I pause to refresh my heart with the knowledge of God’s watchful care, of his roving, caring eyes upon me everywhere, always.
I think about the questions the angel asked Hagar in v. 8 as if they were asked to me. She knew the answer to the first but not the answer to the second. The angel’s daunting answer to the second question has a promise of uncountable descendants attached. Am I facing an unpalatable course of action which I must take and for which I need a promise? Finally, think about Ishmael (meaning “God hears”), still a favorite son of Abram 13 years later (17:18), and the father of the Arab nations which surround Israel to this day. Following the ousting of Egypt’s President Mubarak, there were many riots taking place in Arab cities, together with stories of Muslims and Christians protecting each other.
Pray for Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Middle East, especially those who are oriented towards diminishing the pain and animosity that has divided them for centuries.
Father, You see my going out, my coming in, my lying down, my rising up. Thank You for Your all-seeing care.
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