God promised Abraham he would be made into a great nation, that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Gen 12:1-3). While this man of faith hoped to trust in God’s promises, Abraham could not see nations coming when God had not yet given him his own son (Gen 15:1-3). So, rather than waiting on God to show up, and because Abraham’s wife, Sarah, couldn't have children, the two formed their own plan.
Sarah told Abraham to go and sleep with her slave, Hagar. And Hagar gave birth to a son named Ishmael (Gen 16:1-4). What happened next reveals the brokenness of what occurs when we take God’s promises into our own hands. Sarah despised Hagar for doing what she could not. So Hagar fled into the wilderness.
In the midst of her desert wandering, the LORD met Hagar.
He called her to return to Abraham and Sarah, while also promising to this lost, abandoned, pregnant woman: “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (Gen 16:10). Hagar replied back in faithfulness, “You are the God who sees me, for I have now seen the one who sees me” (Gen 16:13).
If you follow Hagar’s story further, you see she returns back to Abraham and Sarah, as God had called her to. Yet, things did not get easier. Rather, Hagar finds herself in another desert space, this one even worse than the last. Yet again, though, God met her in that lost, abandoned place (Gen 21:8-21) and calls her into a new chapter.