Giving Up – Genesis 21

Sometimes it seems when things go right in one direction, they goes very wrong in another. 

Poor Hagar, who has just been hanging in there with Abraham and Sarah, raising her boy Ishmael who is about 14 at this point. I’m sure she stayed “under the radar,” not wanting to antagonize her mistress, each year hoping that maybe Abraham would recognize her and accept her son. She probably helped Sarah entertain those visitors who said barren Sarah would have a child, even at her age! She saw Sodom go up in smoke, learning a lesson about sin. She traveled with Abraham and Sarah, having little say in comings and goings, even when she saw Sarah given to Abimelech to be his wife.

And then, Hagar saw Sarah’s belly grow. As unbelievable as it was, she knew what that meant. She may have even been there when Sarah gave birth, seeing the child…seeing Abraham’s joy…seeing Sarah’s delight.

Yet Hagar knew in her heart, the good news for them was bad news for her.

And the child grew and was weaned.
And Abraham made a great feast on the day
that Isaac was weaned.
But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, 
whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.[b] 1
So she said to Abraham, 
“Cast out this slave woman with her son,
for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 

Who knows what Hagar was laughing about? It might have had nothing to do with Sarah or her son. She could have been laughing about a joke a fellow slave told. Whatever it was, it drew Sarah’s attention towards her. She couldn’t bear to Hagar happy, laughing. Once again, in a moment of weakness, Sarah’s jealously got the best of her.

Hagar may have heard the arguing between Sarah and Abraham, hoping Abraham would stick up for her. Instead, he was the one who brought the bad news with bread and a skin of water, sending her into the wilderness. Could this be the man who lay with her? 

In distress, she wandered, just like we do when we are in distress. The water is gone. She can’t bear to see her son die, leaving him under a tree, weeping.

She gives up.

 And God heard the voice of the boy,
and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven
and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar?
Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 
Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand,   
for I will make him into a great nation.”  
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. 
And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 

Interesting…God heard the voice of the boy. When his mother gave up, Ishmael must have remember her stories, who she once prayed to, who made promises to her. 

But God spoke to Hagar, telling her he had seen her boy. He is still the God who sees, and he sees that Hagar has given up. He needs to open her eyes, so that she sees – so that she sees that he is the God to provides and keeps his promises.

I remember times when I’ve given up, every opportunity around me had dried up, and I didn’t have anywhere to go. God opened my eyes, refreshed me and reminded me of his love and promises. He gave me the strength to go on.

And God was with the boy, and he grew up.
He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow.
He lived in the wilderness of Paran,  
and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt

“And God was with the boy.” He doesn’t forget and is true to his promises.

And his mother was refreshed with a sense of purpose. 

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