The mother bird was catching grasshoppers and risking the flight down to the ground to feed her baby, who was too young to fly. She was doing what her instincts told her was necessary. But it takes a lot more than instincts to be a great human mother.
It takes a relationship with God. Let’s look at some of the dilemmas of a mother, Hagar, in the Old Testament. She was the handmaid to Sarai, Abram’s wife. When Sarai couldn’t get pregnant, she gave Hagar to Abram. After Hagar got pregnant, Sarai was angry and jealous and treated Hagar horribly. Hagar fled. But God had other plans.
He sent an angel to deliver a hard message to her. God wanted her to go back into the house of Abram and Sarai. Can you even imagine how heart-wrenching that message must have been? And how difficult it was to go back into a situation where she was mistreated?
But she obeyed God. Here’s the story:
“And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction” (Gen 16:7-11).
The word “heard” in this last verse is shama, which means to listen attentively, carefully, with regard and understanding. The word “affliction” means misery and depression. The angel was telling her that God understood her misery and depression. He cared about her and was listening to her anguish and in spite of what it seemed, she could trust that He still had a good plan for them.
Mothers need to know that they can take their deepest concerns to God and that He will instruct them and they can trust Him. God knows what’s in the future, so obedience necessarily overrides instinct at times.
After this encounter with an angel of God, Hagar realized how much God cared about her and her child. She could go back into Sarai and Abram’s home with new courage and a new awareness of how important she was to God no matter how Sarai felt about her. There were important lessons to learn and it was in Abram’s home that she and her son would learn them.
In the wilderness Hagar had poured out her heart to God, but she didn’t stop there. She learned how to listen to Him. She risked her own feelings of human rejection and obeyed when it wasn’t easy. God blessed her because of it and made her son the father of an entire nation.
We all have times when we know the best thing for us is go back to a situation we don’t like. But if it’s really the Lord instructing us and not just our ego, it’ll work out.
God gave Hagar a promise to look forward to, which gave her the courage to go on. He doesn’t always do that, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Why do we go back to something dragging our feet in drudgery as if it’s God’s punishment? We don’t even let Him give us a promise or some word of encouragement. We’re way too accustomed to thinking everyone’s always against us.
But Romans 8:28 tells us “that all things [of God] work together for good to them that love God.” With the right attitude and a little trust (or a lot!) we can still get through it. We’re never alone; the Lord is always with us every step of the way.
Hagar didn’t want to go back into Sarai and Abram’s home. And we don’t like going back to difficult situations either. But with God’s help we can do it and He will give us things to enjoy along the way and great rewards in the end. Take heart and trust Him; He will absolutely work things out for our good.