So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.” (Genesis 16:4-5)
Jewish tradition says that, because she conceived and Sarai could not, Hagar did not regard Sarai as being over her. To make matters worse, apparently, Abram did not attempt to bring this into check. It’s not hard to imagine that Hagar may have thought that the promises made to Abram would come to pass through her and her child.
Though Sarai concedes a misstep on her part, she also takes the opportunity to remind her husband, in a very subtle way, of the selfless act she committed by submitting to this arrangement. In other words, it was for his benefit — an attempt to bring about the promised heir. Also lurking beneath the surface of all of this is the fact that Sarai had acted selflessly on Abram’s behalf when she consented to not telling the Egyptians she was Abram’s wife; a decision that resulted in Hagar being joined to their company. What had seemed like a good idea to Abram and Sarai some months before turned into a looming disaster.
Consequences are never easy to overcome. We make choices that set certain things into motion and, by the time we realize what our choice has cost us, it is often too late to reverse the tide. Most often, all we can do is ride it out and try to make better decisions as we navigate the mess we have made. That being said, none of it takes our Father by surprise. He knows what we are going to do before we do it because He knows us. Still, in spite of us, He chooses to work in us and through us.
That is not to excuse bad judgment but it is to say that our Heavenly Father is merciful and long suffering —He is for us and not against us. As Paul said in his letter to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
It is a comfort to know that we serve a God who doesn’t give up on us even when we’re making bad choices. Yes, there are consequences and consequences are never easy to overcome but, we serve the One who can cause things to “work together for good … for those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Blessings and Shalom,