Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 25th, 2009

Edward Morse

School of Law
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This story of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar has always troubled me. So often in scripture, God chooses people who inevitably make wrong choices, with bad consequences that follow.  The facts here seem unconventional, to say the least. Sarai grew impatient waiting on God’s promise of a child for her and Abram, and she concocted a plan that involved having her husband Abram sleep with Hagar.  Abram goes along for some reason. Human jealously accompanied by anger and bitterness then enter into the story. And then the blame game begins. Just as Adam blamed God for the mess he got into with Eve, here Sarai blames Abram for the fine mess that followed from the plan that she initiated. It is all so tragic, and yet so predictable.  Compounding matters, Abram seems not to stand up for what is right, but instead takes the path of least resistance, allowing Sarai to do as she pleases to the detriment of Hagar and her son.

It is understandable that Hagar would want to get away from the abuse and mistreatment. But God intervenes with a messenger, which allows for a surprising response of obedience by Hagar.  God also includes someone in the story who listens and does what He asks, and in this case it is not the lady of the house, but her handmaid.  In this sense, her response is reminiscent of the humble and obedient response of Mary, the Mother of our Lord.

The words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of heaven”, take on new meaning in juxtaposition with this story.  We may sometimes think of ourselves as privileged and chosen, being entitled to God’s grace due to familiarity with the things of God.  After all, we behave ourselves (mostly), go to church (when it is not too inconvenient), say our prayers (when we remember, and especially when we need something), and give to charity (when we have enough). But the gospel reminds us that even doing wondrous things in Jesus’ name will fall short.  More is required; “only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” is on the right track.  This involves knowing Jesus and the Father who sent him. 

In many points in my life, I cannot claim to be that different from Sarai or Abram in this story.  When patience wears thin, my trust often weakens.  I am reminded of a saying that is displayed in our home:  “To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it back to them when they forget.”  We are prone to forgetting the song of love that God put into our hearts, but thankfully He often sings it back to us.  May we have ears to hear that song, the patience to wait for His voice, and may we persist in faithfully responding to it.

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