One of the things I’ve always loved about the Bible is that there are different types of women in it. From wives to prostitutes and much more they are all there and I find it beautiful because it shows that there is nobody that God deems ‘unworthy’ of His love and forgiveness.
I was reading Genesis 21:10-14 but as I was reading it something struck out to me. Is it fair to say that Hagar was the first single mother in the Bible? What makes it ‘worse’ is that God seemingly allowed it to happen. Harsh right? So many thoughts ran through my mind and I couldn’t help but think about the unjustness of it all. However, God shared some really beautiful things with me which I’ll endeavour to share with you all now.
To get a better understanding let’s go back to the beginning of this whole situation; Sarah was impatient. She was not willing to wait on what God had promised to Abraham and that was the promise of him being a father not just to one but to many. We see her unbelief in Genesis 18:11-13 where she actually laughed at the promises of God. It wasn’t enough that she didn’t believe but the fact that she also laughed showed just how much she took what God was saying seriously.
As a result of this she suggested to Abraham that he should sleep with their Maid Hagar. Weird right? And it gets better because Abraham actually agrees. Why he agreed we will never know but he did and the real problems begin; cue Hagar. Now, this is just me speculating but what if Hagar had said no?
What if she said she can do no such thing and sin against God?
What if she was prepared to obey God despite the consequences and possible punishment she faced?
What if she decided to run away instead of agreeing to be a part of Sarah’s skewed plan?
Just what if? Of course that didn’t happen but one can begin to see where each person had a role to play in what did happen and that nobody can absolve themselves of any blame. If Hagar had run away God would definitely have looked out for her as He eventually did anyway later on when Ishmael was born. The only innocent party in all this was Ishmael.
When reading Genesis 16:4 I began to realise that Hagar was not such a nice person sometimes (as we all can be at times) and she actually began to despise Sarah when she was pregnant with Ishmael. Of course Sarah wasn’t happy with this and tells Abraham in no uncertain terms to send her packing which happens later on in that chapter. In that same Genesis 16, in verse 16 God tells her to go back and submit to her mistress Sarah. Hagar does go back and all is well…for a while anyway.
God fulfils His promise over Abraham and Sarah does indeed give birth which is seen in Genesis 21. In Genesis 21:9 however we see that Ishmael is the one that is mocking his brother Isaac. Sounds familiar right? This time round though Ishmael is now in on the action and it makes me realise the importance of raising a child correctly. Where would Ishmael have learned such behaviour? It is fair to assume that he may have seen such characteristics from his mother Hagar as she too displayed such behaviour early on in Chapter 16. What was she teaching Ishmael? Of course these are all observations but it does make you wonder.
It is no surprise sadly that later on in chapter 21 verse 12 she was sent away and that God Himself also sanctioned it. It actually broke my heart to read how Hagar did struggle and in verse 16 she actually leaves Ishmael in a corner to die as all the provisions they did have ran out and she couldn’t bear to see him suffer. No mother would want to see their child suffer and I can empathise with the challenge she was faced with.
The beauty is that in that challenge God provided for her and Ishmael and it is mentioned in verse 20 how God was with Him even as he was growing up. Now that is what ministered to me. Some of us may be in situations where we are now a ‘Hagar’ not by choice but because of circumstances and we are faced with the herculean task of raising children alone with no father present. We may not even have behaved in the way Hagar did but we have found ourselves having to support children alone. I just want you to know that you’re not alone and that God loves you and He will provide in what seems to be a wilderness. He will make a way. If you can identify and can see the ‘Ishmael’ in you in the sense that your father (or mother) is nowhere to be seen please meditate on Psalms 68:5 where God says He is a father to the fatherless’.
As mentioned earlier on in this post one of the things I’ve always loved about the Bible is that there are so many different types of women and people in the Bible but what underpins the Bible and what unites them all is God’s love.