Sarah and Hagar – Friends Turned Rivals

The childbirth was excruciating, and many thought she wouldn’t make it through. After all, at 91 years old, how many women would? But the delivery was a success, and as Sarah held dearly the son she so desperately wanted, she looked around the room at the admiring faces. Yet she couldn’t help but notice one missing.

It had been 14 years ago that Hagar had given birth. Sarah’s once handmaiden and dear friend had provided her husband with the one thing, until now, that Sarah couldn’t; a son. But that was before the Lord appeared to Abram, and in a time when Sarah and Hagar were as close as sisters.

Sarah remembered it well. As Abram’s wife, Sarah held a position of honor and respect within the community. But as the years passed and she remained barren, her inability to bear children brought shame. Not only was Sarah frustrated, she was also devastated. How could God withhold from her the one thing she wanted most? Especially after His promise to make Abram’s descendants as numerous as the stars?

Knowing it was wrong, yet unable to bear the sadness and shame any longer, Sarah took matters into her own hands. She gave Hagar to Abram in order that he would lie with her and conceive a child. It seemed like the perfect solution. Abram would get his heir, and Sarah and Hagar could embrace the joy of motherhood together. And she could trust Hagar right? For she was more than a maid, Hagar was one of Sarah’s dearest friends and closest confidants. Surely Hagar would never betray her.

Nine months later, Hagar bore Ishmael. But things were far from the paradise Sarah has envisioned. Abram’s attention had turned to Hagar and the baby, leaving Sarah feeling as an outcast and alone. And the people now looked at Hagar, a mere servant, with honor and respect, while looking at Sarah with eyes of pity. And worse yet, this once loyal friend now stood before Sarah haughty, superior, and reveling in her own blessing and Sarah’s misfortune.

Broken hearted, angry, and fed up, again Sarah took matters into her own hands. She treated Hagar so horribly, the maid took Ishmael and fled into the wilderness. So imagine Sarah’s distress when a short time later, back came Hagar with Ishmael in tow, plans to stay, and a fresh promise from God Himself.

Yet God remembered Sarah. And proving that with Him nothing is impossible, opened Sarah’s womb in her old age, blessing her with Isaac. This new beautiful baby boy so full of hope and possibilities. Yet Sarah’s joy came at a cost. If things had been different, Hagar would still be by her side celebrating this great miracle. Instead, things between them only grew worse and carried on through their sons. Friends became rivals, and both women learned the hard way that whatever we do outside of God’s will is costly, and often turns to ashes.

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