Devotion 8 of 9 in the series on Abraham: Genesis 21:8-21

Will God Take Care of Us?

Will God Take Care of Us? Scrub brush in the desert. What if we could take our eyes off of the cracks in the dry ground and see the well of water God has provided?

Sometimes our perspective becomes clouded, and it is hard for us to see that God is taking care of us. Does God feel distant to you at this time? Do you wonder what He is up to? Today’s devotion challenges us to step out of our earthly point of view and see God’s perspective.

Genesis 21:8-21

8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Digging into God’s Word

It has always, always bothered me that God told Abraham it was all right to send Hagar and Ishmael away. It seems cold and unfeeling. How could God let them go wander in the wilderness like that and show such favoritism to Isaac? Sure, Isaac was the son of the promise, but didn’t Ishmael deserve to be taken care of?

Oh, had I missed it.

How often have we misinterpreted a situation in our life as thinking God was inactive, simply letting this terribly bad thing happen? “How could you?” we would cry out to God if we were honest about it. We face so many difficult situations: the wayward child whom we long to see come home, whatever “home” may mean; the job for which it takes everything in us to get out of bed in the morning; the injustices of the world that are so evil and enormous. Put your situation in the blank. “How could you let ______ happen?” we want to scream to God.

God didn’t allow Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away because He is a coldhearted God. Quite the opposite! It is because He had it covered. He had Hagar’s and Ishmael’s backs. They didn’t need to live in Abraham’s household to be taken care of. Why? Because God takes care of us. In fact, things might have gone from bad to worse in Abraham’s household, given the animosity between the two women.

From our perspective, that moment in Hagar’s and Ishmael’s lives looks disastrous and, honestly, very unfair. They had been evicted from their home, they had wandered in the desert long enough to run out of water, and death seemed imminent. Hagar was so distraught that she separated herself from Ishmael so that she wouldn’t need to watch him die.

At that very same moment, God saw an entirely different situation. Oh, that we would have His perspective to be able to see out of our difficult times.

Look at all the touches from God to Hagar and Ishmael in this passage:

  • verse 13: God promises to make Ishmael into a great nation also.
  • verse 17: God hears the cry of Ishmael and talks with Hagar.
  • verse 19: God shows Hagar a well of water.
  • verse 20: “God was with the boy [Ishmael] as he grew up.”

God didn’t allow Hagar and Ishmael to be sent away for them to die. Not at all. He was with them the whole time, watching out for them. Hagar thought they were out of water, but God showed her a well. She thought her son was going to die, but God already knew that Ishmael’s descendants would become a great nation, and He was with Ishmael as he grew up. What if we could take our eyes off of the cracks in the dry ground and see the well of water God has provided?

Digging Deeper

Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers.

  1. Which situation in your life came to your mind as you read today’s devotion? Name it. Describe it.
  2. All Hagar could see was the empty skin of water and her son about to die. What do you see in your situation?
  3. Hagar lifted up her voice and wept. Plead and scream to God about your situation. The psalmists did this. You can, too.
  4. God, who seemed very far off, was, in fact, paying attention. He encouraged Hagar to lift up the boy, and He showed Hagar a well of water. Had that well been there the entire time? Had Hagar not been able to see it because her vision was so clouded by very valid emotions? We do not know. Consider this concept for your situation. Is it so desperate and uncertain that you cannot see out of it? Your situation may very well be extremely serious. Even so, ask God to show you the well of water.

Extra Info!

We often miss the passage in Genesis 25:9, where the two brothers–Isaac and Ishmael–come together to bury their father, Abraham. The implication is that the siblings stayed in touch. Somehow that does my heart good. They found a way, despite their family’s dysfunction, to talk with each other. It is later in chapter 25 that we learn of the hostility of Ishmael’s sons toward everyone.

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