In Genesis 16, there is drama between Sari and Hagar, Sari’s servant. As a result of an unauthorized plan concocted by Sari and approved by Abram, Hagar is pregnant with Abram’s child and now Sari is upset. She kicks Hagar out of the house. Hagar is an Egyptian, so when she is kicked out of Abram and Sari’s house, she is hundreds of miles from her homeland. She is wondering in the wilderness. The distance between where she started and where she is in the text was a 5-6 day journey. She stops to rest by a spring of water. A messenger from God sees her and says to Hagar, where have you come from, and where are you going? Interestingly, Hagar tells the angel where she came from, but she can’t tell him where she is going. She is pregnant, alone, and homeless.
The messenger of God appears to Hagar and gives her a command. She is to return to Sari. Then after the command, she is given a promise. In the promise, God lets Hagar know that her child will not be the blessed seed of Abraham, but he will still be successful. There will be difficulties and conflict in his life, but he will still thrive. You shall call his name Ishmael. The name Ishmael means God hears. Every time Hagar called her son’s name, it was a reminder that God heard her in her darkest hour.
Can we be faithful enough to receive the promise? Promises are often a benefit of a divine command. Do you have an Ishmael in your life? Do you have a something that reminds you that God heard you even in your darkest hour?
Your Ishmael might be a grocery store receipt reminding you of the time when you didn’t have any food or money, but God blessed you to find $5 so you could eat. Your Ishmael might be your hospital bracelet that you saved after your successful surgery. Your Ishmael may be your report from the doctor’s office that you are still cancer free. Your Ishmael may be your wedding ring. It looked like the marriage was over and divorce was certain. But God touched hearts and your difficult days are behind you. Your Ismael may be your child who was born pre-mature and spent weeks in NICU, yet now is healthy and exceeding expectations. God hears us even in our affliction. And when God hears, He responds.