God's hand in all things.

Genesis 16:7-16 (ESV)

The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how Sarai treated Hagar after she returned, but we have one clue. Abram named the child Ishmael – the name the Angel told to Hagar.

Obviously, Abram got the name from Hagar. She must have told him about her encounter with the Angel of the LORD. Hagar would have told the whole story anyway, to explain why she returned.

Imagine the shock this must have been to Abram. This lowly servant girl describes a direct encounter with the angel of the LORD. Ding! Abram had forgotten about God’s guiding hand in all this.

But this clue tells us something else; Abram named the child. That means Abram sees the child as his heir. This gives Hagar some status as Ishmael’s mother.

Unfortunately, this status disappears (even turns negative) when Isaac is born.

Even the father of the faith needed wake-up calls to remind him that God is running the show. The goal is to not need them (or at least to not usually need them) but we shouldn’t get too discouraged when we do.

In fact, being frustrated by your own failures is the key characteristic of a Christian. Sanctification is a never-ending growth process and frustration is essential to that growth. When we claim Jesus as Lord, we get a new standard of excellence. Our ability to meet that standard doesn’t jump so quickly and that gives us fits.

Then our understanding of the new standard keeps growing faster than our ability to meet it. So, we feel like we’re moving backwards.

Praise God for this system! Yes it’s painful, but it works marvelously. To God be the glory.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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