Though there are many types of circumstances that can be difficult to endure, often times it is the way one receives the challenge that makes things harder than they need to be. People often have the tendency of trying to understand why certain circumstances are happening, in which cause there is seldom an answer we can accept. Many times people try to draw their own conclusions about how certain things will pan out as a result of circumstances. The truth of the matter is that human beings have such limited visibility concerning circumstances so that one trying to figure things out will likely just compound the issue.
In Genesis 21:8-14 the Bible presents a difficult set of circumstances for Abraham. Though Abraham is God's chosen heir to three of the most incredible promises known to mankind, one must consider that Abraham still had problems he had to deal with, and he still had to live with the consequences of his bad choices. His position in God did not make him exempt from difficulty or consequence. Genesis 21:8-14 explains that as the heir of God's promises - Isaac - grew, the family dynamics in Abraham's household started to get complicated. Abraham and Sarah made the foolish choice to try and out-work God's promises to have a son, and Ishmael was born as a result. The Bible explains that the consequence of this decision was that, when Isaac started to grow, he and Ishmael didn't get along, which then meant that Sarah and Hagar weren't getting along. The scriptures explain that Sarah wanted to part of Hagar or Ishmael. In her eyes, she had gotten the son that was promised, and there was no room for another son in their home, She told Abraham to fix the problem by kicking Hagar and Ishmael out.
Abraham was then put in a very difficult situation. Though Sarah's attitude about Hagar and Ishmael seems heartless and cold (which it is), in her eyes, Ishmael is Hagar's son, not hers. In Sarah's eyes, Ishmael is the son of a maidservant. Sarah was not considering the position of Hagar, Ishmael, or Abraham. Abraham was left in the middle. Though Ishmael was the son of a maidservant, Ishmael was still Abraham's son. Though Ishmael was not to be the heir of God's promises made in Genesis 12:3, Abraham still loved his son Ishmael. The scriptures state that these circumstances weighed on Abraham greatly. Abraham certainly wanted to please his wife and make life simple for his son Isaac. However, the option that was set before him was that peace would come at the expense of his son and maidservant - both of whom didn't ask for the circumstances that they faced.
This is a position that no one would want to face. Nevertheless, these are the circumstances that came in the form of consequence for Abraham. If Abraham would have been patient to trust in the Lord's promises, he wouldn't have this problem. Yet still, God sought to comfort and lead Abraham. Genesis 21:8-14 explains that God called out to Abraham and told him not to worry. From a human perspective, it seems like a silly command to tell Abraham not to worry. Human beings excel at worry in times of distress and difficulty. Yet God explained to Abraham that there wasn't a need to worry because He was in control. God told Abraham something that many have found unusual. Though Sarah's attitude regarding Hagar and Ishmael was terrible and selfish, God actually told Abraham to do what Sarah purposed - send them away. If one doesn't understand the position of God, it almost seems as if God is equally as heartless as Sarah. However, the Bible teaches that God is love, and so He cannot be heartless.
The scriptures are helpful to explain God's rationale for His command. The Bible explains that God told Abraham to send Ishmael and Hagar away because Sarah was right - the heir of Abraham would be Isaac. However, if one considers the circumstances by which the heir (Isaac) was born, one should remember that the fulfillment of God's promises are not in the hands of Abraham. God is in control. It is because God is in control that God explained that, whether Ishmael and Hagar stood under his roof or not, they were also in God's control. God is in control of all things. God commanded Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away because proper heavenly perspective would have one come to the realization that it is God's responsibility to take care of them according to His will. Though Abraham should do his part, the lives of Hagar and Ishmael were ultimately in God's hands.
This is why God promised Abraham that Ishmael would be taken care of. It is true that Abraham was to be made into a great nation through Isaac, but God also promised Abraham that Ishmael would become a great nation as well. This is the same promise the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) gave to Hagar when she tried to run away from home. God was explaining to Abraham that He is not being insensitive to the situation. God simply had a different plan for Ishmael. Abraham's thoughts about how God should work were different than the ways God wanted to work. Most people would think that it would be better for the families to remain together. However, scripture plainly teaches that "all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
While it might have seemed like circumstances were bad for Hagar, Ishmael and Abraham, God had good things in mind for the future. It was impossible for Abraham to know that God wanted to make Ishmael powerful. It was even more impossible for Abraham to know the methods by which God would achieve that goal. Therefore, how could Abraham know that it was good for him to send Ishmael and Hagar away? How could Abraham know that sending half of his family away was the right thing to do, even though it seemed like heartless decision? The answer is simple - because God said so.
God commanded Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away because God knew that He had a good future for them and that He was going to take care of them. Abraham didn't have those details, so he had to exercise faith. Abraham had to trust that because God gave the command, the command was good even though it looked bad. Abraham had to trust in the character, nature, and power of God in order to believe that everything was going to work out in the end. Abraham had to trust that, though things didn't seem fair, God would exercise His power and provision to make things right. Abraham had to trust that things were out of his control and that the sovereign God would make things right according to His will.
Therefore, Genesis 21:8-14 explains that Abraham woke up the next morning, took bread and drink, put them on Hagar's shoulders and sent them away to wander the wilderness of Beer-sheba. This seems like a tragic end to what could have been a great family. However, the scriptures go on to explain the work of God and how good His plans are in order that His people would get the opportunity to see Him, know Him, and be with Him. The only challenge that remains is not the circumstance, but this instead: will we trust God in who God is and His perfect will in spite of how things seem? The scriptures show that people don't know the truth of what's really going on, but God does. Will we trust?