Sarai tries to help God out.
In the fifteenth chapter, when Abram lamented to God, “a slave born into my house is to be my heir”, God had told him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir”. And God let him know that his offspring would be innumerable.
Fair enough for him; but not for Sarai because she bore no children. Well, if Abram had power over his household, she too, had influence over her slave girl. She gave her to Abram to mother his child. And it worked. Or did it?
Since the birth of the child then meant everything to Sarai, then the bearer of the child should be worth a whole lot too. But this turned out to be a reality that hounded Sarai. We read that Hagar “looked with contempt on her mistress”. I wonder how much of that contempt arose unaided in Hagar. Did Sarai have absolutely nothing to do with it? If she was so sure that she had done God’s will, why wasn’t she content to live with it?
She couldn’t. She needed this act and this chapter of her life blotted out. She could not have the reminders around. Ishmael and his mother had to go. With Abram’s permission to do as she pleased, “Sarai dealt harshly with her [Hagar], and she ran away from her”.
But God sees. and God promises Hagar that her son would have to fight. And do we see the beginning of ethnic strife? Like the darkness that overtook Abram in which setting he learned that his offspring would be oppressed for four hundred years (15: 12-20). There is still more darkness to come in the history of his progeny.
Help us O Lord, to trust you wholly. Help us to understand that other options we want to present you may simply be fraught with difficulty that will make a never-ending mess. Amen.