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.

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

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.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. (Genesis 21:14-21)

It’s hard to see through our tears. That’s why God keeps trying to wipe them away. Abraham was unhappy about sending his son and his mother away from him. But he did as his wife Sarah—and God—told him. With her son Ishmael, Hagar went off into the southern desert of Israel beyond Beersheba. Soon, she and her boy ran out of water and Hagar was certain that they would die.

But God noticed her son crying and intervened on his behalf. He comforted Hagar in that moment. Not only did he provide for their immediate, physical need for water, he answered her other concerns as an exile disowned and cast from her home: that her son would live under God’s blessing and that he would prosper. The future for her, the future for her son were not any more grim than her current circumstances were actually grim. Her worry about tomorrow, God told her was unfounded.

Ishmael’s home in the Desert of Paran was most likely in the region around Mt. Sinai. It was a mostly barren wilderness. Hagar was from Egypt, so it was natural that she would find a wife for her son from her homeland.

How can we be alone or without hope so long as God is with us? No matter how bleak the circumstances, with God things are never as they seem to be.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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