Just this week I was told of a friend who is going through a divorce. Her husband has abandoned her. This is not the first time this has happened to a friend, and unfortunately it won’t be the last. I’ve been trying to think of a Biblical example of an abandoned woman who the Lord took exceptional care of, but nothing came to mind until today in Sunday School. Out of the blue the name Hagar was in my mind and I knew I had my girl!
I feel so sorry for Hagar. She was a slave and had no control of her life at all. She did not ask to be Abraham’s concubine, her master, Sarah forced her. So this woman became his concubine (similar to a wife). As his concubine, she becomes the mother of Abraham’s first son, Ishmael. As a result, she is despised by the woman who forced her on Abraham.
The first time Hagar is left alone is found in Genesis 16, it is because she escapes Sarah. At this point, she is fearful for her life. While she is at a spring an angel of the Lord finds her and tells her to go submit to her master, Sarah. Even though Hagar was in a miserable situation, God told her to go and submit and she obeyed. Sometimes in a relationship, we don’t want to submit, we want to flee because it is too hard. Yet when God tells us to submit we must do so. I find it striking that even though Hagar is not an Israelite, God loves her, protects her, and even blesses her through a powerful son. She submitted, God protected, and God blessed.
The story of Hagar has a second part found in Genesis 21. Sarah does eventually give birth to a son, Isaac. He is the one through whom Abraham’s line will be blessed. After he is weaned, Abraham throws a big party, and Sarah sees Ishmael having a good time. She insists that Abraham send Hagar and Ishamael away. Sarah does not want them around. She wants Hagar and Ishmael out of her life. God permits this by telling Abraham to do as Sarah says. He does so with a heavy heart but Sarah and Abraham abandon Ishmael and Hagar. Hagar is effectively divorced from Abraham, but again God protects her, loves her, and renews His promise to make Ishmael a great nation. Even through divorce, God never fails
In the 1 Peter 3:1, Peter addresses a situation where a woman is married to someone who does not obey the Word. He tells her to stay with her spouse and show him the Gospel through her good works. The fact that a husband may not be led by Christ, is not a biblical excuse for a wife to leave or treat him poorly. She is to stay and win him with her goodness. That verse is a hard pill to swallow, but true because God’s Word commands it.
Paul also shares thoughts on divorce in 1 Corinthians 7, and tells women that if the husband leaves, and is an unbeliever, the wives should let them go. For the women I know who have dealt with divorce or separation, the loss of their husband is extremely painful because it is the death of their love. The one they trusted and wanted to spend their life with has left them.It is devastating.
Now, I know that this situation is not exactly the same as a divorce in our society. I don’t know any families who have a slave or a concubine. What I do think is that just like Hagar was abandoned by her provider and family, so have some women I know whose husbands have divorced them. These women like Hagar have been left to fend for themselves, but like Hagar, God has not forgotten them. God watches and loves them continually, His love is never failing.
I don’t know the circumstances of the women who read this blog, but I’m sure some are in a similar situation. Either they are in a relationship where they want to run or they have already become divorced. Whatever the situation though, there is hope in Christ. He loves you and wants the best for you.