Read Genesis 16:1-15
Finally, Abram has a son!
Imagine his joy.
It’s been ten years since God promised him children: ten long years. He was beginning to lose hope, but here in his arms is his very own baby boy – his son.
It’s all a bit different from what he expected. Somehow, he’d thought that God meant for Sarai to have the son herself, not through her servant; and that message about Ishmael being a “wild donkey of a man,” living in hostility with everyone – that doesn’t sound at all like being a “blessing to the whole world”.
Here is the boy.
I imagine Sarai meanwhile, wondering where it all went wrong. There stands Abram, proudly holding his son, and it’s all because of her. Legally, the child is hers. But this isn’t what she’d hoped for. It’s all so flat. And that horrible Hagar, gloating and beaming: Sarai could just spit on her.
It’s bad for Hagar, too. She stands off to the side, arms achingly empty, while Sarai and Abraham parade her son around. He’s her son, not Sarai’s, no matter what anyone thinks. Even God knows it. He spoke to her about him; told her his name would be Ishmael because of her, Hagar’s, suffering – because God sees her suffering.
Hagar remembers the man – was he an angel? Was he God? – who met her by the road. He talked as if he knew all about her. The God of Abram, everyone knows about Him – she still can’t imagine why he would bother with her. But he did. There is Ishmael. Every time she hears his name she remembers the promises God made about him.
I imagine her shaking her head in amazement. Promises to her? She’s a servant – a woman. Why would he bother? She doesn’t even matter to Abram, the father of her son. Why would she matter to God?
This is a strange God, who goes looking for a runaway slave.
As though he cares.