I was reading through Genesis not long ago when a co-worker (reminder: I work at a church so many of my co-workers are pastors), Pastor Joe, came into my office as I had my bible open and had just finished the last line in chapter 21. He asked what I had been reading about and I started to cry. I cried because of verse 8-20.
Abraham and Sarah couldn’t have kids for a while. So Sarah tells Abraham go ahead and have a baby with Hagar, my servant. Abraham listens, hooks up with Sarah, has a boy named Ishmael, and goes about his business. Catch up to Chapter 21, Sarah has finally had a baby boy of her own and when it comes time to celebrate Sarah gets jealous and makes Abraham kick them out….into the wilderness, well desert really.
Ishmael was 14. He had lived 14 years with his father. It says Abraham was upset by the demand so I’m assuming he must have spent some time with Ishmael. Imagine what it would be like to be a 14 year old kid and have your father look at you and kick you and your mother out of your home with only a container of water and some food? That’s what made me cry. Imagining what it must have been like for this child and his mother. Hagar didn’t ask to be in this situation. It wasn’t her idea. Poor Ishmael was just the product of their impatience and now he has been cast aside. It’s not fair. It’s unjust. I cried for him. I imagined it being my child. Then I cried more.
What I realized was that sometimes things don’t go the way we want. Sometimes God will let the scary, uncomfortable, hurtful things happen to us. The consequence of someone else’s sin hurt Ishmael. That happens to us all the time doesn’t it?
Then, when Hagar is crying out to God because she can’t bear to watch her son die in front of her, God revealed himself to her. He gave her comfort, he provided them with not just a container of water but a Well FULL of Water, and it says he stayed with the boy as he grew up.
God didn’t make the situation go away, but he did stay with them. He did provide for them. It may not have been the life Abraham could have given them, but it was a life with a living and active God who did not leave their side.
I pray we remember this as we live it out each day. When we are desperate, hurt, angry, treated wrongly, God is still with us. He has plans for us that we can’t even see a glimpse of yet. He is our all sufficient God, who gives us not just a glass of water when we are thirsty, but a full well.