God heard the boy crying. Genesis 21:17
Sue’s family was falling apart before her eyes. Her husband had suddenly left the home, and she and her children were confused and angry. She asked him to go for marriage counseling with her, but he wouldn’t because he claimed the problems were hers. Panic and hopelessness set in when she realized he might never come back. Would she be able to care for herself and her children alone?
Hagar, a servant of Abraham and Sarah, faced those thoughts as well. Impatient for God to give them a son as promised (Genesis 12, 15), Sarah gave Hagar to her husband, and Hagar gave birth to Ishmael (16:1–4, 15). However, when God fulfilled His promise and Sarah gave birth to Isaac, family tensions erupted such that Abraham sent Hagar away with their son Ishmael with just some water and food (21:–21). Can you imagine her desperation? Soon they ran out of provisions in the desert. Not knowing what to do and not wanting to see her son die, Hagar put Ishmael under a bush and walked a distance away. They both began to sob. But “God heard the boy crying” (v. 17). He heard their cries, provided for their needs, and was with them.
Times of desperation when we feel all alone cause us to cry out to God. What a comfort to know that during those moments and throughout our lives, He hears us, provides for us, and stays near to us.
How has God provided for you when you’ve felt alone? How have you responded to Him?
I’m grateful, God, that I never really walk alone. Help me in my desperation.
Learn more about communicating with God.
In ancient times, the offspring of servants could be considered as one’s own child. Sarai (Sarah) had intended to raise a family through the offspring of her servant Hagar (see Genesis 16:1–2). When Ishmael was born to Hagar and Abraham, Abraham was eighty-six years old (v. 16). Sarah didn’t give birth to Isaac for another thirteen or fourteen years when Abraham was one hundred years old (21:5). Today’s passage (vv. 9–19) describes how Sarah treated Ishmael and Hagar on the day Isaac was weaned. The reader might wonder what the intervening years had been like between Sarah and Ishmael.