“Perhaps that’s how God is going to make it happen.”
Such is often the excuse of the frantic faithless when, despairing of God’s blessing, they seek to work things out for themselves.
Though the notion of a “surrogate” mother and the practice of polygamy in the ancient world was not unknown, the Israel of the Exodus, reading this story for the first time, had to be more than a little chagrined at Sara’s plan to force to fruition God’s promises.
But it is not the only embarrassing moment of the story.
Like Adam before him, Abraham is silently complicit in Sara’s plan. In each story, the man “listened to his wife” (3:17; 16:2). Hagar, blessed to be in the company of a God blessed family, turns on the very person who has chosen her, acts disgracefully, and ends up, as Israel has, in the “desert.” Sara, now jealous and regretting her actions mistreats the helpless girl she has oppressed (much as Egypt oppressed Israel). Then, she blames her husband for the result and mistreats Hagar. Some folks simply find it impossible to accept responsibility for their own sins.
Hagar runs away, but God follows. He knows the inequities. Though God promises Hagar (as he did Abraham) that her descendants will be too numerous to count, he commands her to go back to the house of her oppression. Blessing, it would seem, is tied inseparably to the people of God.
Life is messy. It can be so simple when people simply trust God and follow His way. But it gets complicated and messed up quickly when people play God themselves. Sometimes, Christians, weary of the hijinks of the Church, seek to find blessing in separation and on their own. The result is always a desert. You have to go back, live as you should, and trust God to make everything as He intends it to be. That’s when promises come true and blessings flow.