Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May every year. Those who go to church on that special day will more than likely hear a Mother's Day sermon about well-known women in the Bible. There are many to choose from in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. Often the less familiar biblical women are overlooked. This sermon is about Hagar, the handmaiden of Sarah.
Hagar's Duties to Sarah
Some of Hagar's story is found in Genesis 21:8-21, but her story really begins a lot earlier in the Bible. When Abraham and Sarah left Egypt, Pharaoh gave the slave girl to them to be Sarah's handmaiden. She helped Sarah out around the house and did whatever she was told.
Abraham and Sarah were old. Besides, Sarah was barren. Even though God promised them a son, Sarah became impatient and took the matter into her own hands. She asked Hagar to sleep with Abraham to produce a son for them.
At Sarah's order and Abraham's agreement, Hagar did lay with Abraham and she became pregnant with a son. Before the baby was born, Hagar ran away on her own because she felt mistreated. God sent her back to be under authority to Sarah with a promise that her son, Ishmael, would become a nation.
Twenty-five years later, God opened Sarah's womb and gave her a male child just as He had promised her. After the birth of Sarah’s own child, Isaac, she told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.
What Abraham Did to Hagar
Again, Abraham followed his wife's order even though the Bible says that the matter distressed him, according to Genesis 21:11. God assured Abraham that he should send Hagar away. God promised Abraham that Ishmael would still be in line with a divine purpose even though he was not the son of promise.
Abraham rose up early in the morning according to Genesis 21:14 and gave Hagar only the bare necessities . . . bread and a skin of water. He put them on her shoulder indicating that she had a burden to carry. Hagar and her son headed back to Egypt, but they got lost in the desert.
It was not until the bread and water were used up that Hagar wept and God intervened. When Ishmael became sick in the hot desert, his mother put him in the shade under one of the shrubs. Then Hagar sat down away from him because she did not want to see him die. She lifted her voice, and she wept while her son was also crying.
God heard Ismael's cry. After all, his name means "God is hearing." The angel of the Lord told Hagar to fear not for God had heard. God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and she filled the bottle and gave her son a drink. God provided a well in an unlikely place; in the desert.
Notice that while she only had a small container given by man, God gave her an entire well, and He didn't do it until Hagar came to the end of the little that she had. God gave them exactly what they needed at the time the cry was heard. Not a moment sooner, and not a moment later.
Notice that Hagar never wept about the way she had been mistreated. She never wept when Abraham had sent her out with only bread and water. She didn’t weep because she got lost in the wilderness. She wept when her son seemed like he was about to die. She wept when she had no more food or water to give him to keep him alive. When she wept, God heard. God hears when mothers weep.
Hagar: Example for Single Mothers
There are many things about Hagar that clearly shows she is a good representative for many mothers especially those who are single. She was a single mother responsible for caring for her son alone. She survived under harsh conditions, but her story has a happy ended because God intervened.
What Hagar went through represents all women who have been excluded and have felt helpless and hopeless. She represents all women who have ever been homeless.
Summary of why Hagar is a good example for mothers.
- Hagar is an example for single mothers trying to take care of their children alone.
- Hagar is an example of rejected women who have been cast out.
- Hagar is an example of what can happen when God intervenes. While man can only provide bare necessities (a bottle of water), God can and will give more than enough (a well in the desert).
There are still a lot of Hagars in the world. There are some single mothers without homes, without food, and without water for their children. There are mothers who have been rejected. There are mothers who have been cast out. To those mothers, God says open your eyes and look up and see that He has provided more than enough for your immediate need.
Hagar: Like the Mother of Jesus
Like Hagar, we find another mother waiting for her son to die. In John 19:26-27, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is standing at the foot of the cross. The Bible does not say that she cried as she stood looking up at her son on the cross, but she must have cried. Unlike Ishmael, Jesus wasn’t under a bush for shade. He was high on a hill. Like Ishmael, he too was thirsty.
Hagar sat away from Ishmael so she wouldn’t see him die. Jesus wanted to spare His mother from seeing his actual death. Therefore, He requested that John take her from the scene. She did not see her son as they continued to mock him. She did not see Him as He breathed his last breath and gave up the ghost. She did not see her son as they pierced Him in His side. She did not see Him as He commended His spirit to his Father. However, she probably cried all the way home and the rest of that day and the next day.
Then on the third day, when she wept, they were tears of joy because she was told that Jesus who was crucified, dead and buried, was alive.
That same God who heard Hagar and Ishmael weep is still hearing mothers when they weep.
It is amazing to note that as long as Hagar had water, God did not intervene. He didn't need to do so. He wanted her to be a good steward of what she had before he supplied more. He was present, but God deliberately waited until she came to the end of her resources. That's when He showed up supernaturally. It was only after the water had run out that God opened Hagar's eyes and she saw a well of water. It was more than she needed because God is a God of more than enough.
It is not certain when God will intervene in our situation, but here are three big clues:
- God will intervene after we have been a good steward over what we already have.
- God will intervene when we come to the end of your resources.
- God will intervene when we cry out to Him because God responds when mothers weep.
Evelyn Perry on May 08, 2020:
This was a profound message Rev. Margaret. Thank you.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on May 12, 2018:
Thanks, Dora. The story of Hagar always gives me hope that God will provide in the nick of time. He always provides more than enough from unlikely sources such as a well in the desert.
CaribTales on May 12, 2018:
Good sermon for all of us but especially for those you mentioned. I always think that it was in Hagar's struggles that she discovered that God was not only the God of Abraham and Sarah but was her God too. Comforting!
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on May 02, 2018:
Thanks, Louise. It is a condensed sermon I preached for Mother's Day years ago. I had cut out a lot for easier reading. Thanks for your comments about it.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 02, 2018:
This is a lovely story, and apt with Mother's Day approaching in the USA.