Utter fear and loneliness webbed themselves around Ishmael as he lay in the hopeful shade of the thorny lace leaved fronds, watching Hagar stagger away, her keening wail tearing the mocking silence of the desert. He just knew with without conscious thought that he was going to die. Ishmael shut his eyes against the piercing death gaze of the sun.

If things were the way they’d always been, he’d be lying on silken pillows in the dark smothering shade of the tent, listening to the restless shuffling of a thousand sheep and cattle, and the clicking of the herdsmen as they called out to the animals in their care. Abraham would tell him stories. Abraham… Ishmael curled himself into a tight ball and deep shuddering silent sobs shook him.

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.”Gen 21:17

A thousand emotions and thoughts swirled and buzzed in Hagar, deafening her. She could not hear her son’s cry. She had nothing within her to give, not even comfort to her dying son.

“What troubles you Hagar?” – injustice? lack of water? no vision for the future? The certainty of lingering, painful death? “What troubles you?”

“Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; …” Gen 21:18

It is so easy isn’t it for us to become inward looking and focused on ourselves – our circumstances, our pain, our understanding of the way forward, our assessment of the resources that we can use to get out of the situation, that we forget to remember. We forget to remember there is One who Sees and does not forget. One who is merciful and able to cause the things we have abandoned without hope to breathe and live again. Hagar forgot to remember El Roi, the One who saw her when she was alone in the desert before. But El Roi did not forget!

Arise out of self-pity, fear, hopelessness, anger, bitterness, despair. Arise, lift up the Ishmaels you have cast into the shade to die. Arise, the Lord is with you. He has not abandoned you. He will surely show you the way forward.

So the LORD answers, “Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.” Isa 49:15 GNB

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