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rescued and redeemed

Photo by Dapo Oni on Unsplash

Photo by Dapo Oni on Unsplash

There is no distance we can run from which God’s gracious hand can not reach out and rescue.

We can never go too far where redemption can not pull us back.

And if we think that our current circumstances have hidden us too far out of sight, then we have forgotten just how great and mighty, mindful and compassionate, our God really is.

Whether we are seeking, hiding, hurting, lost, or stuck, God sees, and God hears. We are not invisible to him. Our cries are not distant, muffled, or ignored.

Under the weight of mistreatment, Hagar – the maidservant of Sarai – ran away, fleeing the pain that burdened her. An angel found her in the desert and told her to return to her mistress. The angel also revealed to Hagar that the child she was carrying would be a son and that his name was to be Ishmael.

Hagar, heavy with sorrow and bitterness, found that even in the desert – far from home and running to preserve her dignity and life – God saw her.

“You are the God who sees me.” Genesis 16

The name Ishmael means, God hears. God not only saw Hagar, but he also heard Hagar.

This story reveals much about the character and care of God. Out of disobedience, Abram and Sarai acted independently of God and created an ancient near-Eastern soap opera-esque problem for themselves. Rather than wait for God’s way and God’s timing, they took matters into their own hands and tried to have a child through Hagar, Sarai’s servant. Things really heated up when Hagar got pregnant. Hagar’s behavior wounded Sarai, who I am sure was grieving her inability to have children, which set off a series of events that left Hagar destitute in the desert.

While God’s covenant with Abram was to be fulfilled through Isaac, God still did not abandon Hagar, and her unborn baby. He did not turn his eye from their need. In fact, he gave Ishmael a promise as well.

God also saw the way in which Abram and Sarai had treated Hagar, and this did not please the Lord. They had created a problem for themselves, and rather than deal fairly and justly in this situation, they became hurtful and unkind. And because of this, God acted justly on behalf of Hagar and Ishmael.

To be clear, nobody was acting very kindly in this story. Hurting people hurt people. And the result was tragic.

But God remained faithful.

God saw Hagar’s pain. He didn’t abandon her and he did not leave her empty-handed. He rescued her.

That is the beauty of God’s gracious nature.

If you are in a dark and deserted place right now, God sees you, and he hears you.

It would be easy to end the story right here, but what I find so precious and hopeful is that, even though Sarai and Abram disobeyed God and stepped outside of the boundary line of goodness, God still chose them.

Did you catch that?

God still chose them.

“God said to Abram, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make many nations of you, and kings will come from you. As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’” Genesis 17:3-6,15,16

In spite of their mistakes, their past, their taking-matters-into-their-own-hands behavior, God still chose to make his covenant with Abraham and Sarah. They certainly didn’t earn the right or the worthiness. They proved their humanity in how they behaved with Hagar, and yet God didn’t discard them due to their mistakes. In fact, Abraham’s belief in God’s promise (as frail as it may have appeared at times) was credited to him as righteousness.

God redeemed.

If you have found yourself in the desert, whether through your own rebellion or by the will of an unjust hand, God sees you and he hears you. You are not hidden from God. No one is ever too far gone that they can not experience the tender grace of God’s rescue.

Perhaps you think that your actions have disqualified you from God’s best plans for your life, or that the amount of mistakes you’ve made have created an impenetrable barrier between you and God’s grace. The same God who redeemed the story of Abraham and Sarah is the same God who will redeem yours. We can come back from our mistakes. There is redemption.

Regardless of where we are, where we have been, and where we think we are headed, God rescues and redeems.

He sees you.

He hears you.

And his promises are for you.

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