Forty women 3. Hagar

It’s no fun being an invisible woman like Hagar. No one listens to you. No one sees you. No one’s interested in what you want, what you think, how you feel. Hagar only gets to play a bit part in the story of someone else’s life.

No one asks Hagar whether she wants to sleep with Abram. No one asks whether she wants to have his baby. No one asks whether she’s okay to hand that baby over to another woman. Hagar doesn’t matter. It’s only her body, her baby, her life, after all.

But when Sarai adds insult to injury, treating Hagar cruelly for, you know, following her orders, it all gets too much. Finally, she snaps. This is Hagar’s life and it’s time for her to take control of it.

So she runs away. Sarai and Abram don’t come after her. But there is someone who sees what’s happening, who knows how miserable she is. Someone who cares.

An angel of the Lord meets Hagar. He tells her that she will have to return and submit. But he also makes her a promise. Her descendants, just like Abram’s, will be too numerous to count. Hagar’s son won’t be forgotten. Her son won’t be nothing. Her son will be a daily reminder that God heard her misery, in his name Ishmael, ‘God hears.’ But Hagar’s son won’t be easy. He will be a wild donkey of a man, constantly in conflict.

God sees Hagar. She isn’t invisible to him. Her story matters to him. He listens. He cares.

“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.” (Genesis 16:13)

There’s no happy ending for Hagar’s story. She still has to go back to Sarai and her cruel taunts. She still has to give birth to Ishmael, knowing he’s going to be hard, hard work.

But she’s not invisible any more. She’s been seen. She can hold her head up high. She has seen the one who sees her.

In God’s eyes, there are no bit part actors. There are no invisible women. You matter. He cares. He sees.

Forty women: 4. Lot’s wife