When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. – Gen. 21:15-16 NIV
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The eventual birth of Ishmael, being the desire of Sarah, when she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham must have brought some joy to her (Gen. 16:1-15), after all this was her desire when she thought and activated the plan. This would be the case, despite the action of Hagar, despising her benefactor, because she became pregnant whilst her mistress was yet to do same. Having had to run away from the home of the Abrams initially, due to the mal-treatment she received from Sarah, she had to retrace her steps and return, following the advise of the angel, that she should return to her mistress and submit, an action that would have brought some level of peace back to the home, even if it was temporary.
Temporary because Sarah herself eventually had her own son called Isaac in her old age and rather than rejoice with her, Hagar’s son, Ishmael chose to mock her and, in reacting to the disrespect from her step-son, she demanded of Abraham that both the boy and his mother be sent away, a request which on this occasion greatly distressed Abraham – Gen. 21:1-11. Probably because of his unwillingness to do the bidding of his wife on that occasion, the Almighty God intervened, telling him to grant the request of Sarah, making him aware in the process that all he promised to do for him through his offspring was going to be fulfilled through Isaac. This was despite the fact that He was still going to protect and prosper Ishmael, who after all, was also his son, so Abraham agreed to send both mother and son away, and after packaging food and drink for them, they departed, wandering into the desert of Beersheba – Gen. 21:12-14.
Whatever was packaged eventually got exhausted and because of her inability to arrange for replenishment, and as stated in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, she gave up on the survival of the child and rather than have him die in her hands, she chose to lay him under the bush whilst moving a bow shot away where she sat crying – Gen. 21:15-16.
It was in this pathetic and hopeless situation of mother and son that the Almighty God, who she had earlier described as the EL-ROI, meaning the God who sees (Gen. 16:13-14), heard the cry of the boy and through His angel, sent a message of re-assurance to Hagar, informing her of His plan to turn her son into a great nation, whilst at the same time drawing her attention to a nearby well of water where she eventually filled her skin and also gave water to the boy – Gen. 21:17-19. Indeed the Almighty God sees and more importantly is an ever present help in times of trouble – Psa. 46:1. He indeed has credibility and integrity such that even when we are not faithful, He remains faithful because He will not deny Himself – 2Tim. 2:13.
Hagar could have been described as an ingrate when she chose to despise her benefactor (Gen. 16:1-6), but this case of Ishmael now mocking his step-mother took disrespect and disregard for Sarah to another level. One begins to wonder what kind of training a fourteen year old was getting that would encourage him to put up such negative attitude towards one whom he must have learnt was a benefactor to his mother and had become his step-mother – Gen. 16:16; 21:5. No doubt that this is the result of privately held, mother and son conversation with possible permissiveness of the conduct, this time, by Abraham, who was likely seeing Ishmael as the one through whom the Almighty God was going to fulfil all that has been promised to him – Gen. 17:1-21; 21:12. The result of such training is the discomfort and distress that his action brought to both Abraham and Hagar, and the near death situation that he found himself. No wonder the wise one in the book of Proverbs advised all people to train their children when they are young in the way to go, with the assurance that they will not depart from such paths when they grow up – Prob. 22:6.
Several people are in very unbearable conditions today, with death starring at them, because of their refusal to take to this wise counsel. Due to the lack of control in choosing the information that should be shared with their children, access has been given for turbulence and unnecessary life challenges to become an integral part of the lives of both parents and children. Such people will always want to accuse the assumed Sarah in their situation of acts ranging from intolerance to wickedness and more, and not wanting to accept that all they are getting is the result of their not being careful or selective with the information shared, not only with their children but generally their wards. In the process, they unconsciously recruit supporters who foolishly help to fight a battle whose root cause, they do not know. Most times, rather than helping the course of the one they claim to support, they actually worsen the situation and most likely get themselves enmeshed in problems that should have nothing to do with them.
Ishmael was lucky to have been the son of Abraham, whom the Lord had made promises to and which he had no choice but to remain faithful to, but not everyone will be so positioned. Most people do not have such grace and so, in doing a similar act, end up inviting problems and turbulence into their lives. You can save yourself, your family or your wards from unwanted troubles in life by being careful with the information shared with them or allowing them to inherit your battles, after all they were not part of the events that led to the battle in the first place. You can also avoid bringing unnecessary stress into your life by not getting involved in actions that will make you inherit other people’s battles simply because of the earthly relationship you have with them. You will only have yourself to blame in the end. If you cannot foster reconciliation and peace, then do not escalate the problem by recruiting more warriors into the battle. The one who does not encourage peace should expect to be surrounded by wars and there can never be progress recorded in an atmosphere of war.
If however, if you have made the error of picking up other people’s battles and thus have inherited their problems, you may still be able to save yourself from drowning in this inherited problems by;
- Ceasing from further getting involved in the battle which definitely is not yours.
- Attempting to foster peace if you are so positioned else steer clear of the events and issues around battle.
- Plead with EL-ROI to see you in your situation and direct you to your well of comfort, that will put an end to the dryness and emptiness that the unnecessary battle has brought into your life. He is a merciful God and will be willing to restore you if you are really honest in your actions.
May God grant us all the wisdom to avoid inheriting problems that should not be ours in Jesus name. Amen.