Who is our God? What is He like?
He is a merciful God.
What is mercy? Noah Webster defines it as “That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat the offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice.” It can also be defined as “Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.”
In the chapter before us we see just such an act of mercy. Hagar, at the prompting of her mistress, Sarai, has agreed to this ill thought out plan to usurp God’s timing for the fulfillment of His promise to Abram. The result of this foolish decision has resulted in anger and bitterness on the part of Sarai toward Hagar. She ends up being mistreated and flees as a response to the abuse. It was not an easy place to be, and her solution was to flee.
But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. (Genesis 16:6)
One thing that I have found to be true in counseling people in over twenty years of pastoral ministry is that a geographical change never solves a spiritual battle. You cannot run from spiritual trouble. You must face it. Running only leads to prolonged misery and frustration. Hagar chose to flee, and in that flight we see something amazing revealed about our God. Wherever Hagar ended up, God was already there. He was there, not just because He is omnipresent, but because He was waiting and ready to minister to her in her distress. He is merciful. He was there to have pity on her in her trouble. He was there to extend an arm of compassion to her in her distress.
And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. (Genesis 16:7)
What a comfort to know that God is already there, and ready to restore us. Hagar finally recognized this truth about God. She also made a very interesting observation about her own life that is very relevant for us all. When she realized that God was already there for her, she recognized her failure to look for Him in the midst of her trouble.
And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? (Genesis 16:13)
How often we forget to look for God first. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, don’t forget, our God is already there. He already knows what you are going through. He is ready and willing to extend mercy where it is needed.
Behold our God!