God is Gonna Get It Right–Even in Spite of Us
The story of Hagar is one of the most offensive stories in the Bible. Here Abraham has been promised by God that he will be the Father of a great nation. Promised by God. But since both he and his wife Sara are so old, Abraham decides he’ll hedge his bets and try to reproduce with one of his slaves, Hagar. And yes, such practices were customary in those days, but just because something is customary doesn’t make it okay. Hagar was a victim. No way around it.
You can listen to her story here.
The moral of this story?
God is going to keep God’s promises–using the most unexpected, morally questionable and ethically challenged people if need be. And if God can pull off amazing, history changing, world-altering things with people who are not their best selves (and that’s a generous assessment), why is it that we think God is so dependent on us to be right and do right?
Throughout this history of the church, we have been obsessed with getting it right. People were killed over the debate over the true nature of Christ and just how the Trinity “worked”. Were the three members of the trinity co-eternal or did one stem from another? Really. People died over this.
During the reformation, people were ostracized, excommunicated and executed for turning away from the one true church.
Today, we continue to debate, argue and be down-right mean spirited about just how errant or inerrant scripture is, who can get married, who can serve in ministry and who gets into heaven. It’s still SO important that we get it right–and exclude everyone who is wrong.
Following Jesus is a difficult enough endeavor without always to constantly question if we’re doing it right. Part of following Jesus is knowing that we’re not always going to get it right. We hope that when we do get it wrong that we do no harm to ourselves, to others or to creation. But we know that however badly we louse things up, we will not and cannot alter the promises and the plans of God. If God can found an entire nation on the likes of Abraham and Sara, surely She can do something promising with the likes of us.
The story of Hagar is a story of a God who keeps promises. Hagar is the one in this story who gets it. She is the only one in all of scripture who refers to God as El Roi: the God who sees me. God saw her. God saw Abraham and Sarah. Our God sees us. Just as we are–the good, the bad and the ugly–and still uses us for God’s good purposes.
When we know we are seen, loved and have a part to play in this world, we can quit trying so hard to get life right and get on with living the abundant life God calls us to.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.