This is the meaning of the Jewish name of Hagar, the Egyptian girl who wound up as an exploited, despised slave in the household of a conflicted patriarch and his calculating wife. Perhaps Hagar represents today’s stressed and sorrowful “servant” who speaks publicly or thinks privately, “I didn’t sign up for this.” We fault no member of the medical community for voicing their despair. This applies to first responders, drivers of refrigerated trucks loaded with Covid-19 victims, and every human being that is bearing the brunt of this pandemic in their professional or private lives.
Hagar’s story begins in Genesis 16 and there might be a gloat in her voice when she first exclaims, “I didn’t sign up for THIS.” Childless old Sarah talks Abraham into taking the slave as his wife, planning to make a pregnancy her “brain child.” Fertile young Hagar soon flaunts her swelling belly and openly despises her mistress. Fuming Sarah blames Abraham and tensions run so high that Hagar runs away into the stark isolation of an inhospitable “wilderness.” That’s precisely where she runs into God.
He initiates the conversation, convinces Hagar to go back and submit from a sense of duty, then spells out the bright future appointed for her son Ishmael. Genesis 16:13 is literally an eye-opener: “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘Thou art a God who sees,’ for she said, ‘Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?’” His gracious self-revelation enabled Hagar to go from being in an awful situation to a state of belief in a living, personal God that was full of awe.
Sovereign Lord, who entered into our broken world as Suffering Servant, reveal yourself, we plead, to all who see no way out of their awful situations, except to flee from them. We trust you to draw them out of peril into a place of refuge, furnished with a love and hope they did not know existed. Thank you for the privilege of offering life-changing intercession in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen