Lessons From A Maidservant – Part 3
Written by Felicia McKnight
Genesis 16:9 NLT
The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”
So far we’ve learned several lessons from maidservant, Hagar:
Lesson #1 – Know When It’s Time to Flee
Lesson #2 – Sometimes You Just Need a Break
Lesson #3 – God Will Send an Angel
Today Hagar teaches us Lesson #4 – Sometimes You Have To Go Back.
In Genesis 16 Hagar was in a difficult work environment that caused her to become so frustrated that she left. She ran away to the desert. She was distraught and obviously in some type of emotional pain. Hagar soon realized she was not alone and that God sent an angel to minister to her and to reveal God’s will for her life.
The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” (Genesis 16:9-12)
Several years ago I went from having the best boss I have ever had to having the boss from hell. She was a micro manager and knit picked everything. I could hardly get my work done, because this woman was always asking me the status of an assignment. At that time I also had an amazing co-worker who likewise was mistreated and unfortunately she terminated employment leaving me stuck in the work place with the micro manager. I was expected to do the job of two people in the same amount of time. One of my job duties was to approve employee’s interim pay at the organization which was additional compensation for handling the job of two people when they were short handed due to leaves or terminations yet I was not offered any additional compensation. I constantly got in trouble because I was not moving fast enough for management. I recall I was written up for an incident that happened three months prior to the write-up. I could not remember the incident and leadership would never tell me which employee the incident occurred with so I was truly thrown an unexpected blow. I had enough with that place. I was fed up. I would go home crying every day. I was a single mother and this was my only source of income. I couldn’t quit or else the bills would not get paid. What was I to do? I was frustrated and like Hagar I ran away from the job. I was able to go on a paid leave of absence for a short period of time. I got a much needed break and God finally showed up and opened the doors for interviews. While I was on leave I received a job offer. As much as I wanted to call that place and tell them I wasn’t coming back I still chose to do the right thing and go back with a two week’s notice.
I’m sure you are wondering why Hagar and I would choose to go back to these hostile work environments. Why would I be kind enough to give a two week’s notice when I had a new job offer already lined up? For me going back showed strength and endurance. It displayed that I was not a quitter and that I was going to finish that difficult fight to the very end. It showed that I was able to do the right thing by giving a two week’s notice and giving the department the opportunity to hire new staff while I was still present. When I returned I showed who really had the power.
Why, would the Lord tell Hagar to go back to a hostile work environment and to be around people who do not care about her? Why would God tell Hagar to submit to people who are constantly mistreating her? Well here is what I learned from Hagar and from my own personal story.
When we go back we take the power away from the enemy. Real power is when you can stare your enemy in the face and know that no matter what they do they can’t break you and they can’t run you off. If we choose to leave it should not be because the enemy ran us off, but because our departure is God’s divine timing.
When we go back we recognize God is bigger than our circumstances. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were so confident of who their God was that they were able to talk back to a King. They knew no matter what was about to happen that the God they served was able to deliver. This is the same attitude we have to face when we are in challenging circumstance. No matter how difficult or impossible or dead it may seem remember that God is greater that the problem and He is able.
When we go back we have to obey what God has commanded us to do and trust that there is a promise to follow. God told Hager to go back and submit and in turn there was a promise. To have to go back and surrender to Sarai means Hagar completely trusted God. She surrendered the situation to Him. That is what making God Lord of our lives is all about. It’s about surrendering to Him even in the toughest of times. It’s about surrendering our will and our desires. It is about trusting God when it doesn’t make sense. It does not make sense to go back and work for someone who dislikes us and mistreats us. What would have made sense is while Hagar was in the desert crying God was behind the scenes changing Sarai’s attitude. That is not the type of God we serve. It is not always that simple. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. When it doesn’t make sense to us it makes perfect sense to God. We have to trust that all things are working out for our good!
When we go back God will provide us with everything we need to endure the most difficult times in life. God promised that we would walk through the fire but we would not get burned. God will give us the grace, the strength, the peace, and the endurance we need to stand through difficult times until He is ready to deliver us. The same God who sent an angel in the desert to be with Hagar is the same God who will be with her when she returns to Sarai’s house.
When we go back the turnaround is the turning point. When we go back we do so with new strength, determination and faith. Many times the break gives us the refreshing and the spiritual perspective we need. When we turn around and go back God has us right where He wants us. We are in a surrendered place and now God can perform His miracle.
I recall one time I had a dream that I was trying to get somewhere. In the dream I exited a major highway and I attempted several short cuts that continued to get me lost. Finally, I decided to get back on the highway and it was a straight shot to my destination. When I arrived to my destination I was in a place of peace. I was worry free. When I took the route I was supposed to and when I was at the place I was supposed to be at, then my breakthrough came and I received the miraculous answers to my prayers.
This was just a dream, but it was also symbolic in that we can’t always run and take short cuts in difficult situations. When we allow God to lead us along the journey He will guide us on the exact journey He desires us to take. When we are stressed and worrying and trying to take matters into our own hands that is the equivalent of being lost and taking short cuts. It gets us nowhere. But when we allow God to lead the way He will take us to a place of perfect peace. When we are where God wants us to be, then He can release a breakthrough in our circumstances. Be blessed and encouraged.
Heavenly Father, grant us the wisdom to know when we have to go back and face difficult situations. Give us the strength to trust you and to know that no problem is too difficult for you to handle. By faith we believe you are greater than any challenge we face. By faith we believe that you are a God that will deliver us from the hand of the enemy. By faith we believe that all things are working out for the good. In Jesus name. Amen