“When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. So she turned to Abraham and demanded, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!’
This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. But God told Abraham, ‘Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.’
So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.
When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. ‘I don’t want to watch the boy die,’ she said, as she burst into tears.
But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, ‘Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.’
Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.
And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.” Genesis 21:8-21, NLT
Escape of some kind is often the most tempting solution to our problems. Hagar was a person who used that approach. When the going got tough, she got going—in the other direction.
However, it is worthwhile to note that the biggest challenges Hagar faced were brought on by other people’s choices. Sarah chose her to bear Abraham’s child, and Hagar probably had little say in the matter.
It isn’t hard to understand how Hagar’s pregnancy caused her to look down on Sarah. But that brought on hard feelings, and Sarah consequently punished Hagar. This motivated her first escape. When she returned to the family and gave birth to Ishmael, Sarah’s continued infertility must have contributed to bitterness on both sides.
When Isaac was finally born, Sarah looked for any excuse to have Hagar and Ishmael sent away. She found it when she caught Ishmael teasing Isaac. In the wilderness, out of water and facing the death of her son, Hagar once again tried to escape. She walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch her son die. Once again, God graciously intervened.
Have you noticed how patiently God operates to make our escape attempts fail? Have you begun to learn that escape is only a temporary solution? God’s continual desire is for us to face our problems with his help. We experience his help most clearly in and through conflicts and difficulties, not away from them. Are there problems in your life for which you’ve been using the “Hagar solution”? Choose one of those problems, ask for God’s help, and begin to face it today.