Monday, April 25, 2011

Genesis 21:14-20

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. (Gen 21:14)

Just one verse describes this farewell! So much is not said. Did Abraham watch them going on their way as long as he could, or was it too painful? Why did he send the two of them with just “some food and a skin of water,” when he could have sent them with an entire caravan of supplies? What was the conversation at breakfast that morning between Sarah and Abraham? Frankly, I love that there are so many things known only to God. There are so many parts of our lives that are just between Him and us. They aren’t meant for public knowledge. And that must be the case here...

“She went on her way and wandered in the Desert...” This indicates an aimless wandering, most likely in complete depression. Eventually, the water runs out:

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. (vs. 15-16)

Remember that Ishmael is a teenager here. He must have been completely weakened a she leaves him under a bush and moves away. I cannot begin to imagine the pain she felt as she let him to die there. She had been able to tend to all of his needs up until this point, but here is a situation in which she is helpless. It makes me think of the saying, “Until Jesus is all you have, you don’t realize He’s all you need.” At the lowest point of her life, when she could not even utter a prayer - only sob with deep moaning, God heard her. In fact, over her loud sobbing, God hear the cries of Ishmael:

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (vs. 17-19)

I like what Beth Moore points out here: “Sometimes God brings a woman to a well, and other times He brings a well to a woman.” God heard this Egyptian handmaiden and the cries of her son, and He provided. That’s our Jehovah-Jireh - the God who provides! God had promised Ishmael would become a great nation, and He never breaks His promises: God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. (vs. 20)

This chapter of Genesis to this point has been full of the highs and lows of life (mostly lows). From the long-awaited birth of Isaac, the son of promise, to the scene of discord and confrontation at the weaning celebration, to today’s story of the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael. Our sovereign God is there to meet every situation.

Yesterday, before heading to Easter services, I quickly checked my school e-mail, and there was an e-mail that was another example of these mixes of celebration with great sorrow. One of the moms in my class had written to tell me that their newest granddaughter had finally been born - such joy! And in the next sentence she informed me that the older sister and brother of one of the boys in my last year’s class (a different family) had been in a car accident on their way home from college for Easter break. The girl had been killed on impact, and the brother was still in the hospital in critical condition. My heart just broke! This is such a dear family, and now they, too, have been visited by such tragedy! I can only imagine the deep sobs of pain this mother is crying. So, as I sat at Easter service, I couldn’t help but tear up while thanking God for the promise of the resurrection, where our hope is secure. May God hear this family’s cries and provide the comfort and grace and strength they will need. Pray today for the Blackwelder family!

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