from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Genesis 16; 21:9-21
God’s blessings don’t just come to picture-perfect families. God also blesses in those families filled with conflict and turmoil.
For Sarah, the pain of her childlessness was so great that she was willing to give her husband to another woman – her maid, Hagar. But this didn’t bring Abraham his heir, and it brought only trouble to the family. When Hagar conceived by Abraham, the relationship between Hagar and Sarah was strained to the breaking point. The pregnant Hagar fled and ended up alone in the wilderness. Only the intervention of God’s angel brought her back to Abraham’s household.
Once Isaac was born to Sarah, the conflict between the two wives boiled over again. Sarah demanded that Abraham drive out Hagar and her son, Ishmael. Imagine the inner turmoil that Abraham must have experienced. Both women were his wives. Both boys were his sons. But God came to Abraham and gave him the assurance and direction he desperately needed:
- “Do whatever Sarah tells you. She is right – your descendants will come through Isaac, not Ishmael.”
- “I will take care of Ishmael and will make him a great nation as well, simply because he is your son.”
Through this difficult circumstance, God proved Himself faithful, not only to Abraham and Sarah but also to Hagar and Ishmael. They were soon alone in the wilderness without food and water. Hagar was so desperate that she left the boy by himself simply because she couldn’t bear to watch him die. But “the God who sees” came to her rescue again, as He had when she fled years before.
True to His promises to Abraham and Hagar, God made of Ishmael a great nation. He is considered the father of the Arab peoples. Thus God made Abraham the father, not just of one great nation, but of two – Israel and the Arab peoples. And in Christ, Abraham became the father of an even greater nation – the “holy nation” of all those saved by faith in Christ (1 Peter 2:9). “All those who believe are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
God’s blessings are real and His promises prove true even in the most troubled situations. The darkness of human distress can never snuff out the light of God’s love.