Do you have the experience of repeatedly mistreated by your boss to the point that your life becomes miserable? How did you deal with it? This week, I would like to return to Hagar's story in Genesis because she had that experience, and I believe that her story can help us.
Genesis 16 told us that Hagar, Sarai's slave girl was given to Abram in hope to bear him a child, and she did conceive. As soon as she became pregnant, she started to despise her barren mistress. With the consent of Abram, Sarai fought back and mistreated Hagar until she couldn't take it anymore and began to run away. She fled so desperately that she probably didn't realize that she didn't bring anything with her and end up stopping by a spring in the desert. That's where God's angel met and brought a comforting message to her. The angel instructed Hagar to go back and submit to her mistress with a promise: "I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count." Have you noticed? God's promise to her is identical to part of Abram's. The angel gave her yet-to-born son a name: Ishmael and vividly described how the son would be. These descriptions produced a positive psychological effect on her. It made her feel connected to the unborn son and motivated Hagar to live on. Skipping forward to Genesis 25:12-18, we will see that God did give Ishmael twelve sons and they each became a tribe.
On delivering God's command to Hagar, the angel explains why the son's name should be Ishmael. It is because "the Lord has heard your misery." For Ishmael means "God will hear" in Hebrew. If you feel your life is as misery as Hagar, these words are also for you: "the Lord has heard your misery." You are not alone. Listen to His teachings, and you will be delivered and receive the blessings He has prepared for you. It is not what you do that makes you deserve God's blessings because the blessings are already waiting. It is through your obedience to God's Word, which allows you to access His blessings. If Hagar didn't go back and submit to her mistress like what the angel had commanded her, she'd died in the desert along with the baby in her womb. It was because she went back and submitted, that she can safely deliver and bring up Ishmael under Abram's protection. It was in Abram's house that Ishmael was raised in a God-fearing, well-educated, and financially abundant environment.
But I would like to bring out this point: although Abram and Sarai should not mistreat Hagar, she should not despise her mistress in the first place. If you have ever been mistreated, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you if there was anything you did that could have triggered that person to treat you this way. I'm not trying to rationalize their behaviors because what they do is wrong. Similarly, what Abram and Sarai did was not right. But Jesus Christ teaches us to forgive first, proactively reconcile with the person wronging us first. (Cf. Matthew 5:23-24) So regardless of who did what first, take the initiative to reconcile with the other party as a faithful follower of Christ.
Now let's deal with your feeling as the one being wronged. No one should mistreat you, but there will be circumstances that it will happen. When those things happen, God knows how you feel. "The Lord has heard your misery." You can find your comfort in Him because you know that He is there with you when you are wronged and He will rescue you.
Share with your partner a story which God comforted or delivered you. Pray for each other that you can love those mistreating you and that you will receive comforts and peace from God.