January 9, 2024

You Are Not A Footnote...

 Humans like stories.  We have been sharing stories for a very long time… from ancient cave paintings to the present humans have told stories.  Why?  Well, stories are powerful.  Stories have the power to inform, to teach, to entertain and so much more. As a Christian, I know one fact, I know the God who created and is creating history.  As I open a book called the Bible and study I am studying the story of God… of His dealing with mankind and those things which He finds important enough to tell me.  The Bible is God revealing Himself to us.  Here is something you need to hear.  The Bible is complete BUT God's story is not!  He is still interacting with us and the God who we read about in the Bible is continuing to write the story… so, realize this, you are in the middle of an amazing story, God’s incredible story, which continues to be written.  Think about it this way, your life is part of the same story that includes Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David, Mary, and so many others.

When you say someone or something is “a footnote in history” what you are saying is someone or something is remembered or regarded as a minor or unimportant part of an event.  In Genesis 16 we encounter such a person, Hagar.  At the beginning of the chapter, we see that the wife of Abram, knowing of the promise of a son (Genesis 12), seems to have chosen to help God and gave her servant to her husband so that he could have a male heir and this heir could fulfill God promises.  Well, at first, things seem to work out just fine. Everything went according to plan. Hagar conceived just as Sarai wanted. But, then the story takes a turn and not a positive one.  There were unexpected, negative consequences to Sarai's decision for after getting pregnant Hagar began to despise Sarai.  Sarai, seeing this, was now upset with Abram, blaming him for the situation.  And Abram… well, rather than deal with the situation, he tells us that he told Sarai to do whatever she wants with Hagar.  The Bible tells us that Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar… so much so that she ran away.

 So, here is Hagar, a seemly minor character in the story of the history of God's people.  One might even say she was a mistake or that her life was worthless.  As we continue to read the story in Genesis 16, we see Hagar, a servant who has fled her master, likely taking little with her.  She is alone and I am sure is feeling very bitter. She has been mistreated, abused, and dealt with unjustly. She was given, not by her choice, to her master, Abram.  Why? So that she would get pregnant because Abram couldn’t have a child with his own wife.  She is pregnant, a runaway servant, out in the wilderness with no food and no place to go. Maybe she thought of returning home to Egypt or maybe she had no plan at all.  Whatever, she probably felt as if no one cared and no one was listening as she cried.  But not true… for her story was not unimportant to God.

 After she had fled, pregnant and alone an Angel of the Lord appeared to her and he did something that I think is significant, he called her by her name.  She is not a servant, she is not property, she is not some Egyptian girl… she is Hagar, a person whom God sees and who is part of the story He is writing. Not only did the angel know her name, but scripture tells us that the angel says, “the Lord has listened to your affliction.”  She is not a ‘no’ one but a ‘some’ one… Hagar is now a person convinced that she has met God, the God who listens.  She says, “You are a God of seeing… truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”  Hagar realizes that the God of all creation sees her and that she matters.  She is not a footnote in the story God is writing a character of great importance.  Not only this, but God also gives promises to Hagar.  The angel says that God would multiply her offspring so that they cannot be numbered and that she will bear a son.  Now there is more to this story, to the life of Hagar, Ishmael, Abram, and Sarai… but that will be for another time.  

So, what are we to take from this.  Well, it is of utmost importance that you see, Hagar, though she seems insignificant, she discovered that her life had meaning and God was involved in crafting her story.  God knew her and had a plan for her life. The same can be said for each of us.  We have our own personal story and each day another page of the story is written.  Your story continues to unfold.

 I want to leave you with two questions to ponder.  In the story of Hagar, the angel asks, “…Where have you come from and where are you going?”  So, how do you answer these questions?  What is your story?  What part does God play in the story?  Pray that God will reveal to you how he is moving in and around you so you can stick close to the God Hagar encountered… the God who sees me (רֳאִי, אֵל).