Peace be with you!
Jealously gets the best of us in stressful times. Sarah has just weaned Isaac, and Abraham throws a great party for him. Sadly, however, Hagar’s son, Ishmael, makes fun of him (Genesis 21:8-9). Sarah realizes Hagar’s son is going to get half of the inheritance when Abraham dies, unless something is done to prevent it. Any parent can sympathize with Sarah waiting the very best for her son. Hagar is a slave with no rights of her own. Why should her son get any inheritance? Sarah asks Abraham to banish the slave woman and her son into the wilderness (Genesis 21:10), so he cannot inherit anything.
Abraham has difficulty throwing his eldest son and the child’s mother into the wilderness (Genesis 21:11), even if she is a slave. The boy is still his son no matter what the circumstances are. How can he throw his son into the wilderness – the unknown? What kind of father would he be if he banished his son to the wilderness? However, God comes to Abraham and says, “Do not worry about the slave woman and your son. I will take care of them. I will give the boy his own nation. Listen to Sarah’s wishes. The nation in your name will be through Isaac” (Genesis 21:12-13). Although Abraham has a heavy heart, he prepares a pack with bread and water and sends the slave woman and his son into the wilderness (Genesis 21:14). Abraham may not agree with Sarah, but he trusts God will care for the slave woman and his son.
Once in the wilderness, Hagar and her son wander around aimlessly and are alone. The bread and water Abraham gave them only lasts so long before it runs out and Hagar becomes distressed. Hagar gives up hope and leaves her son in a brush to die (Genesis 21:15-16).
We have all felt hopeless at one time or another in our lives. In my head, I imagine a woman today who is an only child and an orphan. Left with no financial resources and no emotional support, the woman is hopeless and turns to things like drugs and prostitution to make enough money to eat. If this woman must support a child, how much more fear and desperation must she feel. This imaginary scenario provides us a window into the hopelessness Hagar feels in the wilderness.
God hears Hagar’s cries and sends an angel to tell her, “Do not be afraid. I will make a great nation from your son. Go and care for him” (Genesis 21:17-18). A well appears, and Hagar gives her son a drink. He grows up to be a bow hunting expert in the wilderness of Paran and marries a woman from Egypt (Genesis 21:19-21).
God takes a hopeless situation and turns it around. Where we see hopelessness, God sees opportunity and plants seeds for prosperity. Magdalene is a program for “women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.” The women are “given a key and are offered the necessary resources to maintain recovery, heal from childhood wounds, become physically healthy and find employment.”At Thistle Farms, the women are able to learn skills to obtain employment, which increase their self-esteem and self-worth. These women are given a new in chance in life.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for hearing both Abraham’s and Hagar’s cries. Help us to look to you when we feel hopeless. Tug on our hearts when we spin out of control. Lead us to new life in you. Thank you for the planting seeds of hope in our lives. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- When and how have you felt hopeless?
- When and how has God planted seeds of hope in your life?