Lectionary reading for Today: Psalm 22:23-31; Genesis 16:7-15; Mark 8:27-30
Selected passage for reflection: Genesis 16:7-15 NIV
7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.
There are countless times that I have answered to names that are not my own. I’ve been, “Roberts’ wife,” “Caleb’s mom,” and even “Terri’s daughter.” However, there’s a certain kind of acknowledgement that comes from someone calling me by my name, Jackie. Jacqueline if they’re feeling fancy. It’s similar to the light shown on the face of a waitress or grocery store clerk when you read their name tag and call them by name. It dignifies them and affirms that you see them for who they are not just what they do.
I bet Hagar was caught off guard by the angel. She’s in the middle of the desert where no one should recognize her, let alone know her name. She is found by God mid-run. The angel calls her, “Hagar, slave of Sarai..” and I can only imagine that the title “slave of Sarai” is a check to her pride, a rebuke for her flight, and a reminder of where she ought to be. Hagar acknowledges that she’s had enough and is fleeing from her misery.
The angel of the Lord tells her to go home. In these words, he tells her to repent and go home with a submitted heart; and if she chooses to change the direction of her travel, there will be an inherent promise for her obedience and astounding blessing for generations to come.
She is to name her son Ishmael which means “God will hear.” To be given a name and a promise meant that the Lord had a plan. Ishmael is the first person in the bible that was given a name prior to his birth.
As a woman, I relate to Hagar. I was 2 months pregnant with my first child and the Lord told my husband that his name would be Judah. At 3 months pregnant, I miscarried. I was so upset with God because he revealed to us that it was a boy and gave us his name. At the time I thought, how can a loving God be so cruel? But, man did God have a plan for Judah. The baby that I carried for 14 weeks helped me lean into my faith and grieve with hope. During that time God held me tenderly, met me in my pain, and guided me closer to Him.
Like Hagar, He saw me.
He saw me beyond any title or position that I held and saw me for the broken and fragile girl in need of the affirmation and embrace from a loving Father. The type of gentle love that kisses my forehead, acknowledges my wounds, puts my pain in perspective and offers hope. In this season, as we celebrate Lent's reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert, we are reminded of the benefits of denying ourselves for the greater reward that we are promised through our suffering. Suffer well, sisters and brothers.
What has your pain caused you to run away from?
What does it mean to suffer well?
Lord, help me to SEE the one who sees me. Help me to reflect your character in the midst of uncertainty and hold onto the hope which is given through your son Jesus Christ. I ask you to show me what I need to turn away from and what I need to run towards. Help me to walk more closely with Jesus. To know that I am deeply loved and to share His love with others. Amen.
About the Author
Jacqueline Marshall is a business professional-turned-marketer, passionate about how storytelling and targeted messaging create business-changing content. She is a graduate of North Park University where she earned two bachelor degrees in Business and Nonprofit Management. As an Account Director, she is responsible for managing and coordinating resources needed to successfully service clients, build strategic operational plans, and balance the expectations of clients with the execution of creative work.