“Call Me Ishmael”

(Genesis 21: 8-18, NLT)  8 When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”

11 This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. 12 But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. 13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.”

14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.

17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

Did you ever feel like God is doing so much for everyone else…people all around you are buying houses, getting promotions, getting married, having babies, buying new cars, and going on vacations…meanwhile you’re over here scraping the bottom of the barrel, lonely, and standing by, just waiting for your blessing?  Maybe you’re patient about it, and you understand that these things take time, but maybe you’re the one whose feelings are kind of hurt because you don’t really understand.  You’ve been obedient in every way, yet somehow you still feel left out and rejected.

If you’ve been pushed into the wilderness, like Hagar, you must remember that this was God’s plan for her.  What she had to endure had to take place in order for her son’s life to unfold according to God’s perfect plan for him…and for generations to come.  God never promised that we would not have trials.  In fact, He allows quite the opposite.

(Jeremiah 29: 10-13, NLT) 10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

We are fallen, therefore our sin brings us into struggle and heartache, yet in our brokenness we are still counted as His.  Seen.  Heard.  Purposed.  Loved.  We may toil through difficulties, but they are part of something.  They usher us toward the greater portion…toward the river of refreshing…toward revival and hope!  It isn’t rejection when we face the stuff of life that hurts us, it is God’s love being shown through discipline.  We are being prepared.  Our individual experiences and journeys may look very different from one another, but keep in mind that we don’t always see the inner workings of each other’s lives.  Some of us may seem like an Isaac, born to the right family with the blessings in hand, and some of us may feel more like an Ishmael, pushed into the wilderness.  No matter your circumstance, you cannot allow yourself to make these comparisons.  You must instead focus on your own path that has been laid before you.  Regardless of how hard it is to navigate at times, you have God’s promise and His word to see you through.  If you are thirsty, it is only for a time.  If you are hungry, it is only for a time.  Your struggle and your suffering will pass. 

(Genesis 16: 11, NLT) And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.

…He hears you, Ishmael. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, sometimes I get lost in comparing my life with others’ lives.  Help me to stay focused on what is ahead, knowing that Your plans are greater than what I can perceive, even when “the struggle is real.”  I am so thankful for this reminder today that You hear me, and that if I will simply look for You, I will find You, and You will rescue me.  Amen.

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