2 Ways God Cares for You During Hard Times

Transcript for Special Series Episode 1: Hagar’s Story
We all experience trials and challenges in life. It is easy to wonder if God sees what we are going through. In this podcast episode, I share what we learn about how God takes care of us during times of struggle. Rather listen? Click here.

Meet Hagar

I sat there under the tree feeling too exhausted to take another step. My back ached from walking for hours. I was far enough along in my pregnancy that the weight of my belly made almost any movement uncomfortable, let alone the journey I was on. Last night was horrible. My mistress had been so cruel and I am afraid for myself and my baby. I decided I had no choice but to make a run for it. So I waited until everyone in the household was asleep, gathered what little supplies I could carry, and fled.

My name is Hagar.

Not too long ago, my mistress came to me and said she was giving me to Abraham to be his wife so that I could bear him a son. This wasn’t the life I chose for myself, but as a foreign slave, it’s not like I had a choice. 

So I became the wife of my master, was taken into his bed, and became pregnant. At first, I was excited by the news, I was going to give Abraham the heir he desperately wanted. But as my pregnancy wore on, I became more protective over the baby that was growing inside me. Why should I continue to be the servant? If Sari couldn’t conceive her own baby, clearly she didn’t deserve one. This was MY child and I wasn’t willing to just pass it over to her to claim as her own.

More than that, I am capable of bearing more children for Abraham and she isn’t. I didn’t see why should I continue to be considered beneath her. I had hoped Abraham would see it this way too, but he has never stepped in to defend me when Sari treats me as if nothing about my status had changed. In fact, he avoids me and she just kept treating me worse and worse. I couldn’t bear it another moment. I had to leave.

So here I am. A young, pregnant Egyptian, in the middle of the desert far from home. I have nowhere to go and only enough food to survive a day or two. I have no idea how my baby and I will survive.

The following is an excerpt from Session 1 of the audio devotional series Six Things God Cultivates in the Midst of Hardship

Has God turned His back on you? Does He not see your struggles? Not hear you crying? Does He not care about your hurt? 

Have you ever asked God if knows what you’re going through? And if He does, why He isn’t doing anything about it? 

I have. In fact, one day, I abruptly asked this question of my friend, who is a biblical counselor. She just smiled and said, ”You know friend, the Bible says…”

And then she brought me to Romans 5:3-5

More than that, we REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Wait…what? Did that verse say what I think it just said? That we can REJOICE in our sufferings? I’m confused. Last time I checked, suffering was miserable, painful either emotionally or physically or both and I’d much rather avoid it whenever possible. And rejoicing means finding delight and even celebrating something. So what Paul is telling us in these verses is that we can celebrate our pain and misery. Is that right? Can that seriously be true? 

Well, no, not for everyone, but for Believers in Christ Jesus, yes, it is completely true.

In this devotional series, we will unpack these verses so that you can see what God has to say about your current situation and how He is using your circumstances to grow your relationship with Him. I don’t know exactly what you are going through right now, but He does. And, no matter the details, God is faithful and he NEVER turns His back on His children. He is good and His plans for us are good – even when we don’t understand them.

These verses from Romans reveal 6 specific things God is cultivating through your hardship, did you catch them? If not, don’t worry! That is what we are going to do together. And as we take this time each day, my hope is that you will feel God begin to work in your heart.

Now, please notice, I did NOT say that God would work in your circumstances because that is not a promise I can make nor one that God makes. He does not promise to make life easy or to make difficult situations less difficult. He does not promise to change your circumstances. But what He DOES promise is that He will change you and THAT, my friend, changes everything else.

Want to hear more? Be sure to check the show notes to learn how you can listen to the rest of Session 1, along with the entire audio devotional.

So what happened to Hagar? Let’s read Gen 14:7-10 and find out.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.”

This was a short conversation but there are two incredible things we can learn about how God cares for us amid trials.

First, notice that God came to Hagar.

The Bible says that the angel of the Lord FOUND her. Time and time again, we read in the Bible that God comes to women in the middle of their mess. While there a number of reasons for that, in this case, He comes to Hagar because she doesn’t know where to go. Hagar is lost and desperately needs to be found. 

Has this ever been true of you? Maybe not physically, but you come to a point of grief or pain or mental exhaustion where you finally collapse and are ready to give up because you have no idea how to climb out of the pit you have fallen into? Have you ever heard God call out to you in this moment?

In the first episode of the Grace Over Perfection podcast (The Day I SCREAMED at God), I share the morning when I reached my breaking point. For me, it wasn’t exhaustion brought on by sadness or worry, but by anger. You can listen to that episode to hear my story about the day I screamed at God and how He responded. No matter our reason for being lost, the good news is that God comes to us when we can’t find Him. Sometimes His presence is loud and clear and other times it is hard to hear His whisper but He is there, friend. You may need to quiet your soul long enough to hear Him.

Second, He asks Hagar a question, but not because He doesn’t know the answer.

He wants Hagar to be aware of her actions, the part she has played in the current situation she finds herself in. In her response, she both admits and defends herself with one word. She describes her actions as “fleeing” which means that she willingly left but it was because she felt she had no other choice. 

Perhaps you have walked through or are going through a hardship right now that is completely autonomous. There are certainly cases that cause us immense pain that we could not have prevented. 

But have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation that you kind of, sort of, maybe just a little bit had some responsibility creating? And perhaps you would argue, like Hagar, that you had no choice but to take the actions you took that landed you where you are. This could be a marriage that is falling apart. A job that is unfulfilling. A relationship with someone who was once close is now slipping away. A ministry that is failing. 

What is God’s response to us in any of these situations?

What was His response to Hagar? “Return and submit.”

Ugh! Really? Go back and willingly be subject to the misery? Is that really what God says to Hagar? Yes. And He is saying it to you and me too. Provided you are not in danger of physical harm, God is telling you to stay put right in the middle of the sorrow and the suffering. Stay in the storm. But that is not ALL He says. 

The Lord makes Hagar a promise for the future. A promise that she can cling to in the midst of the misery and He makes a promise to you as well. Friend, just like Hagar, God sees you. He knows what you are going through. There is a purpose for the pain you experience in this life and there are blessings on the other side of it if you are willing to trust and obey Him.

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing, for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Genesis 16:13 English Standard Version

I hope you were blessed by Hagar’s story today. You can read her entire story in Genesis here. Stick with me all month as we meet 5 more women who each experience their own hardship and learn how God meets the needs of each one in her unique circumstances. 

Remember, spiritual growth is a journey, not a destination. And while we are on it, God will continue to remind us that His grace is more important than our perfection.

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