Life is hard. There are times when life can be so overwhelming it can seem as if we're on an isolated island by ourselves. There are sometimes circumstances that arise in life that can make one feel as if no one else can relate or has been through the same thing. There are plenty of people in the world who feel lonely, as if they're getting no help from anyone, and are forced to deal with life all by themselves. However, one must be careful to acknowledge the truth. The Living God who created the heavens and the earth made the same promise several times in His Word. He said He would NEVER leave or forsake His children. Since God is faithful to Himself in spite of the shortcomings of His children, that means that God is ALWAYS with His children even though there may be times where He seems so distant.
For example, in Genesis 21:15-21 the Bible explains the events that took place after God commanded Abraham to let Hagar and Ishmael go. Though it might have seemed heartless and cold for God to command Abraham to kick Hagar and Ishmael out of the house to figure out a way to live on their own, it was only because the people involved in God's work didn't have all the information regarding God's plan to see how such circumstances would result in His glory and their benefit. Genesis 21:15-21 explains that the circumstances of Hagar and Ishmael got really difficult, really fast. They were sent off on foot into the wilderness with only one wineskin full of water. It was not long that, as they journeyed out to unknown places that they ran out of water in the middle of the wilderness of the Middle East. The Bible describes that it was hot and that Ishmael began to wear down. Recall that at this point in time, Ishmael is only about 15 years old. Thus a 15-year old boy and his single mother were sent out into the hot desert to find a way to live.
These are not circumstances that anyone signs up for. Hagar never asked to be in this position. Recall that it was Sarah's idea for her husband to try and have a baby with this Egyptian maidservant. Hagar only did as she was commanded to do. Her life has been rough. She already tried once to flee from Abraham and Sarah but God commanded her to submit to her employers and go back. Hagar was obedient to God and did so and dealt with the mistreatment of Sarah and weakness of Abraham. She had a son. As Hagar was brought into the midst of Abraham and Sarah's schemes, Hagar gave birth to a living human being named Ishmael. He never signed up for these circumstances either. He didn't ask to be the product of Abraham's unbelief in God's promises. He didn't ask to be the oldest son of Abraham to be treated this way. He didn't ask for Sarah to become jealous with his mom Hagar. He certainly didn't ask to be kicked out to the streets with his mom.
There are many who have lived through these types of circumstances. There are many who find themselves in circumstances in life that they didn't ask for and question why God would allow or cause such things to happen. Its difficult to examine the circumstances of Hagar and Ishmael and reconcile why God would allow these things to happen. However, it is also interesting to note a common human habit. The scriptures are helpful to show that when Hagar found out she was pregnant with Ishmael, she gloated to Sarah so that Sarah became jealous. When Hagar was being mistreated, she didn't cry out to the Lord for help. In fact, it wasn't until Hagar had hit the end of her patience that she ran away that she met the Lord; and scripture states that the Lord found her - she did not call out to Him. In fact, in Genesis 21:15-21 the Bible explains that as Hagar and Ishmael ran out of water and she feared her son might die, that she wept bitterly for the boy, but didn't call upon the Lord. The scriptures are clear to show that God called out to Hagar to reassure her about her son.
The subtle details of scripture show that, for many people, if it were not for these miserable times of despair, some people would never hear the voice of God. It is these types of moments in life where one is absolutely helpless that God appears in order that one might know Him and His power. If one considers the creation account, one will find that God tried to reveal Himself in simpler ways, but the sinful nature of people causes people to have the tendency to ignore God. Thus, God will often allow these failures and difficult positions in life in order to reveal Himself in life.
Genesis 21:15-21 reveals an important truth about God. The scriptures explain that God heard the cries of Ishmael. Though the scriptures state that Hagar was crying, God heard the cries of the boy and called out to his mom. This means that God was listening. God was paying attention to the circumstances of Hagar and Ishmael. God was fixed on their circumstances in the midst of their difficulty. God was present the whole time even though it seemed so helpless and lonely. In the Gospel accounts, there is a testimony about the disciples being caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Its interesting to note that in 3 hours of struggling to get across the sea without success, they never called upon the Lord for help. Yet the Gospel of Mark is helpful to reveal that Jesus was praying on a mountain looking at the disciples the whole time. He was watching over them. He watched them struggle in misery and fear for 3 hours and patiently waited for them to call out to the Lord for help. They never did. Just as is the case in Genesis 21:15-21, Jesus went out to the sea, walking on water, and calmed the storm Himself. The disciples never called out to Him, but because the Lord never leaves or forsakes His children, He reached out to His children when they came to the end of their line.
The scriptures are helpful to show that God is able and willing to work with His children and help them in spite of our tendency to ignore or doubt Him. Genesis 21:15-21 explains that as God called out to Hagar, He reassured her that He was going to take care of them. Recall that in Genesis 16:10 God promised that Ishmael was going to be a great nation. God told Hagar this. God had communicated His promise to her, and He is faithful. According to the promise of God, there was no way that Ishmael was going to die in the wilderness. The promise of God should have comforted Hagar in her time of distress, but like so many others, the circumstances caused her to doubt God's promises, or outright forget them. Nevertheless, God reminded Hagar of His promise. In spite of Hagar's unbelief and fear, God told Hagar to stop being afraid because He was present and in control. God told her to get up and take care of her son. God told Hagar to stop being afraid and do her job as a mother. God told Hagar to ignore the circumstances and trust that He is faithful to do what He promised so many years ago. God expected Hagar to ignore the circumstances and trust that God is greater and able to do as He promises. God reminded Hagar that Ishmael would be a great nation!
Thankfully, the Word of God is seen to have great affect and power. The scriptures explain that Hagar stopped crying, looked up, and found a water well in order to give her boy the water he needed. It was there the whole time, but her focus on her pity caused her to miss the provision that God had already given. All she had to do was open her eyes and remember the promises that God had made. Genesis 21:15-21 explains that Ishmael grew up in the wilderness and became a strong archer. He married an Egyptian woman and started his family. He was becoming the great nation that God had promised he would be. One can look at the Arab nations today and see that God was and continues to be faithful to His promise. The truth of the matter is that the Bible explains that God allows trials because its what we need in order to recognize His being many times. However, if one knows who God is, understands His promises, and trusts that God is greater than any trial, then one can be comforted and empowered by God in the midst of those trials. This is not to say that trials will go away, but that one will be encouraged through the trial so as to be blessed in the trial as one recognizes the hand of the Living God working in one's life in the midst of trials, because one's eyes are open to see His work, provision, and presence.