Read the full story of Ishmael here (Genesis 16, 21)
For Hagar, everything in life was unfair. She was given to Abraham so he could have a child. When this worked, she found herself in a bitter conflict with the Sarah.
An angel of God appeared
Hagar could only flee, from conflict, from fear, from sorrow and pain. Yet an angel of God appeared--the first time ever recorded in the Torah!
"Where have you come from? And where are you going?" The Angel asked. What an important question about life for Hagar, and for all of us.
God doesn't ask us questions to obtain information. God already knows of course. He asks to make us aware of our situation, our reality, our needs.
But the angel said, "Return," God told Hagar to take a U-turn and submit.
How difficult is it to return to misery and submit. All we want is to flee!
God heard your misery
But God included a promise and blessing for Hagar as well. This is God's nature. He wants to bless! He told Hagar that she would have a son, and his name shall be Ishmael. This was the first time God personally named a person before he was born. The name testified God's relationship with His people: God hears your misery.
God hears our misery. Hagar didn't ask Him to. God did not take Hagar's pain and problems away, but He listens and responds with comfort, guidance and blessings.
Hagar praised God! She gave God a very special name--the first time someone gave God a name!--'The God who sees me'. God is a God who hears and sees us.
Hagar returned home. Yet the family problems got worse especially after Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Now Hagar and Ishmael were told to leave the household. How can God allow this to happen?
They got lost in the vast desert, with no food or water. The boy was dying, and Hagar could not bear the pain of watching her son die. They cried.
God appeared again. This time He spoke to Hagar directly.
"Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy crying. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand. I will make him into a great nation."
God opened her eyes to see a well of water, and God was with the boy as he grew up.
God revealed a lot about Himself to Hagar and Ishmael:
God hears your misery---He cares how we feel
God appears---He meets us in the most desperate, hopeless circumstances
He said, "Do not be afraid."---He wants emotional comfort and peace for us
"Lift the boy up"--God knows how much we need to be lifted up when we're down
"and take him by the hand."---He understands the importance of close intimate relationship
"I will make him"---This is the work of God, not man's. God makes it happen
"...a great nation"---The promise and blessings are for all His people in the future
God opens her eyes---God gives vision of hope and guidance
a well of water---God knows our physical needs and provides. He is the well of living water
God is with the boy---God gives us the most precious thing in life: His presence
Your Response: Listen to God and Pray...
1. What have you learned about the character of God in this story? Have you experienced God as Hagar and Ishmael had?
2. What have you learned about the kind of relationship God wants to have with His people?
3. If God asks you, "Where have you come from? And where are you going?" What would you answer?
4. Who can you share this story with?