Four Lessons We Can Learn from the Life of Hagar: A Biblical Character Study

A Christian woman sitting on a rock in expectation, like Hagar from the Bible

By Leigh DeLozier

We all have days when we feel overlooked or unseen. 

The world rushes by, and we can’t help but wonder if people really hear us or understand our perspectives. 

Those are the days when I remind myself of Hagar. 

Because no matter how unnoticed and unheard Hagar might have felt, God knew who she was and what she faced. 

God also knows who we are and what we’re facing—and this is vital to remember on days we feel unseen. 

Hagar, the Unseen Woman

Hagar’s mistress, Sarai, tried for years to get pregnant, but was unsuccessful. 

A difficult place for any woman, this situation was especially painful for Sarai. 

God had promised that Sarai’s husband, Abram, would become the father of nations with too many descendants to count (Gn 12). 

Abram and Sarai believed the promise, but many years had passed, and they still had no children. 

Sarai decided to take matters into her own hands and offered Hagar to Abram. 

If Hagar became pregnant, Sarai could raise the child as her own. 

Hagar became pregnant, but it wasn’t the easy answer Sarai might have anticipated.

Whatever the women’s relationship was like before, things turned rocky during Hagar’s pregnancy (Gn 16:4). 

Hagar, a Christian woman, standing on a large pile of rocks

We don’t know how Hagar treated Sarai with contempt, but things escalated until Sarai complained to Abram. 

He gave his wife permission to handle things however she wanted; Sarai treated Hagar so badly that she ran away. 

Hagar was pregnant and alone in the desert—she thought no one saw her. 

But her story didn’t end there.

An angel of the Lord found Hagar by a spring in the wilderness. 

He knew who she was and asked where she had come from and where she was going (Gn 16:8). 

When Hagar said she was fleeing from Sarai, the angel told her to return and submit to her mistress, despite the mistreatment. 

But the angel also offered encouragement. 

He told Hagar her offspring would be greatly multiplied “and they will be too many to count” (Gn 16:10), and she should name the baby boy she carried Ishmael (Gn 16:11). 

Her response is an assurance we can claim for ourselves.

A Christian woman wading in shallow water on the beach

The God Who Sees 

“So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, ‘In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?’” – Genesis 16:13 HCSB

Hagar was seen by God, and this outweighed everything else. 

She followed the angel’s instructions and returned to Sarai. 

When the baby was born, Abram called him Ishmael.

Fourteen years later, God’s promise to Abram and Sarai—whom God renamed Abraham and Sarah—was fulfilled with the birth of their son, Isaac. 

Time and motherhood hadn’t eased Sarah’s jealousy and dislike of Hagar or Ishmael. 

Abraham held a celebration on the day Isaac was weaned. 

When Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac, she demanded Abraham send Ishmael and Hagar away. 

God instructed Abraham to do this and reiterated His promise to Hagar. 

God assured Abraham that Ishmael would also become a great nation.

Once again, Hagar found herself wandering in the desert. 

When the food and water Abraham gave them ran out, she lost hope. 

She put Ishmael under a bush and went about a bowshot away because she couldn’t bear to watch him die.  

Once again, God knew Hagar’s situation and responded.

A Christian woman staring into a dark cave

Four Lessons We Can Learn from Hagar

Hagar’s story is full of treasures. Here are four lessons worth digging into. 

1 – No matter who we are or where we might be, God sees and knows us. 

Hagar was an Egyptian slave. She was a foreigner who would’ve been considered dispensable and unimportant. 

Yet, God knew who she was and every detail of her situation. 

Hagar realized this when the angel of the Lord came to her the first time she fled from Sarai. 

She even gave a name to this truth: El Roi, the God of seeing (Gn 16:13). 

God sees us, too, even on the days when we think no one does.

2 – Running away from our problems is rarely the answer. 

Like Hagar, we know how it feels to reach a breaking point in a situation and want to run away. 

Through an angel, God directed Hagar to go back to Sarai (Gn 16:9). 

Despite the difficulty in this instruction, Hagar obeyed and returned (Gn 16:15). 

Sometimes, God grants us the freedom to walk away from a situation. 

But sometimes, we may need to turn back and face the problem. 

Hagar, a Christian woman, standing on top of a large pile of rocks at the ocean with her arms open and her face raised to God

3 – God can use our mistakes. 

God’s plan for building Abraham into nations didn’t involve Hagar bearing Abraham’s heir (Gn 17:19). 

Abraham and Sarai sinned against God, and Hagar suffered the consequences of their actions. 

Even so, God didn’t overlook Hagar, and He doesn’t overlook us either. 

God cared about Hagar and Ishmael (Gn 21:17). 

He remembered them and kept His promise to make Ishmael a great nation (Gn 21:18). 

He does the same for us.

No matter how we mess up or how far we travel down the wrong path, God can turn our mistakes into something beautiful and usable. 

He can also redeem our stories from the sinful mistakes of others.

4 – God is everywhere when we open our eyes to see Him. 

Hagar lost hope when she and Ishmael ran out of bread and water (Gn 21:15–16), but God saw (and heard) their distress and provided for them (Gn 21:19). 

By saying, “God opened her eyes” (Gn 21:19), Scripture shows how the life-sustaining well was already there. 

The answer to her problem was within reach, but Hagar hadn’t noticed it. 

We can get caught up in our circumstances (good or bad) and miss God. 

But He is always with us—in big and small ways. 

The same God who saw, heard, and understood Hagar does the same for us. 

Let’s tuck this truth into our hearts so we can rediscover Him on the days we feel unimportant, lost, or hopeless. 

We are never unnoticed by El Roi, the God who sees. 

Leigh DeLozier

Leigh DeLozier is a corporate writer/editor by day and a Christian writer, blogger, and book reviewer by night. She is the author of three devotional books, a graduate of She Speaks, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Connect with her at or on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter), where she encourages others—and reminds herself—to slow down and see God every day.

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