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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Story of Hagar

“The angel of the LORD also said to her: ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery”
-Genesis 16:11

Eating disorders (ED) are commonly associated with a lack of control that a person has in their own life. They are usually formed after a stressful event or time period in a person’s life such as adolescence, after a divorce or break-up, getting laid off, or having a new baby. By controlling food intake, an individual may feel that they have gained some sort of power over their life. However, the high of control is only followed by an abrupt crash plagued by feelings of guilt and low self-esteem.

The Bible gives us a good example of a virtuous woman named Hagar who had little power over her life, but yet she still obeyed God even though it made her life difficult. Hagar was an Egyptian slave who Abraham had bought while in Egypt for his wife Sarah. The relationship between Sarah and Hagar was originally a pleasant one. However, once it was obvious that Sarah was baron and unable to produce an heir for her husband, Sarah told Abraham to take Hagar as his wife so he could have children through her and continue his bloodline. This was a common practice back in ancient times, but still would have been an honor for Hagar.

However, conceiving a child with Abraham did not bring Sarah the joy that she had expected. Sarah became moody and jealous of Hagar and consequently begun to treat her cruelly. When Hagar was great with child, she became frightened of Sarah and ran out into the dessert. Running as fast as she could, Hagar heard a voice of an angel saying “Hagar, servant of Sarah, where have you come from, and where are you going? Go back to your mistress and submit to her. You will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.” The name that the angel told Hagar to give her unborn child means “God hears”, an appropriate name under the nerve-racking circumstances. God heard Hagar’s prayers, and granted her the miracle of a messenger to comfort her and reassure her during her time of anguish.

Fourteen years after Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, Sarah became pregnant with her own son. Once Sarah had produced an heir for Abraham, she spitefully evicted Hagar and Ishmael out of the household and back into the dessert. Days without water and dying from dehydration, Hagar could not bear to see her only precious child die before her eyes, so she placed him gently under a bush. Unexpectedly, Hagar heard the voice of an angel who told her not to be afraid, that God had great plans for her son. The angel opened Hagar’s eyes so she could find a well to save her son’s life. Hagar’s son grew up to fulfill God’s promise to His chosen people.

God sent Hagar a messenger to both comfort and save her. While God might not send an angel to give a message or comfort you, he does place special individuals into people’s lives. Perhaps God has given you a caring friend or counselor who has suffered from an eating disorder in the past, who can help you find solace. Consider about all the encouraging people that God has positioned in your life whom you can rely on while you are recovering from your ED. Pray that God will give you the strength to manage your ED, and thank Him for the love and support that he has for you.

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