“Thy Will” with Hillary Scott and the Scott Family
“I am not alone” with Kari Jobe
“Come Alive (Dry Bones)” with Lauren Daigle
“Power to Redeem” with Lauren Daigle
“Trust in You” with Lauren Daigle
“I Tried Him and I Know Him” with Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers
“Open My Heart” with Yolanda Adams
“Be Blessed” with Yolanda Adams
“Oh, Mary, Don’t You Weep” with Yolanda Adams
“Look and Live” with the Michael Fletcher Chorale
Hearing God’s Passion for Us to Thrive
In Genesis 21:14-21, God imitated Hagar’s passion for her son to give Hagar confidence that God did not want to see Ishmael die. After wandering in the wilderness, Hagar could not stand to see her son die. So she sat opposite him at a distance so that she could not see her son, even though she might have heard him. God and Her angel hid away in heaven and said to Hagar that God heard the boy. Their message was clear: God could not stand to see Ishmael die, either. Knowing that God wanted to see them thrive, Hagar could see everything anew.
Praise the Lord! Happy Summer! This week’s Bible Study brings us to the former slave woman Hagar wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba. She was now free, but forced out of her slavery with only a container of water and a young boy.
Has life drastically changed for any of us and set us out on new roads? Do we end up starting out and feeling like we are wandering in wildernesses and stuck? Rodney Sadler Jr. in his article on the Biblical book of Genesis in The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora said that in these situations, of desertion and injustice, “we owe it ourselves to discern clearly what it is that these stories [like Hagar’s] really say about the nature of God and family.” (ed. by Hugh Page, Jr., Minneapolis, Fortress Press: 2019, p. 76) We owe it to ourselves to understand what God thinks about our journeys, particularly when we think about giving up hope.
As it happened in Genesis 21:14-21, Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.
17 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? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water, and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
When we understand that God feels and acts with the same concern that we have about our lives, we can see life anew and act in God’s hope for us.
What was Hagar doing? Hagar could not stand to see the death of her son. Why didn’t she leave him entirely? Why didn’t she go a great distance away and come back days later, if at all?
Hagar did not want to see the death of her child. But in moving a bowshot away, there was still the possibility that she could still hear her son Ishmael. She could not see her child, but she just might hear Ishmael’s last cries. The text spoke of Hagar sitting opposite her son.
What did God do? God did not send an angel from heaven the same way that an angel came to Hagar before in Genesis 16:7-14. Instead, the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, Genesis 21:17. The angel spoke to Hagar and said that God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.
The angel said, Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Why was this a cause for Hagar to not be afraid? Put together with the fact that the angel from heaven did not appear, God was doing exactly what Hagar had done. Hagar could stand opposite her son where she might have heard him; but she did not want to see her son die. God also was listening. Like Hagar, God was standing off at a distance and hearing the boy where he was. And in God’s absence, God also did not want to see the child die.
Do you get confidence in God from this? God also did not want to see the child die. God felt for Ishmael with the same love, hurt, and passion that her mother had her for boy. With this knowledge, Hagar could take heart and know that God did not want to see the child die.
If we all knew how much God does not want to see us die in our wildernesses, we would have so much faith in our futures. God does not want to see us stuck. God does not want to see us fail. God does not want to see us give up. God does not want to see us die.
God wants to see us make progress. God wants to see us thrive. God wants to see us rejoice in every part of our journeys. God wants to see us live!
And so, if we will turn our eyes to what God is looking to see in our lives, God will open our eyes to all the possibilities around us. God opened Hagar’s eyes and Hagar saw a well of water.
God knows how hard you tried. God knows how much you wanted to succeed. So when God sees you stuck and turning in circles, God is as upset as you are. God can’t stand to see you die the same way that you can’t stand to think about what is happening to you.
So get that. God cannot stand to see you die. She wants to see you live, and God wants to open up your eyes to the possibilities that God is looking forward to in your life.
We might be associated with the Hagars of the world. The name Hagar is associated with one who flees and one who is strange. But what you produce and bring forth in your life should be associated with the Ishmaels of this world. The name Ishmael means that “God listens.” God listens and God cannot stand to see us fail, give up, and die. God looks for us to live. Look and live, my sister, live! Look and live, my brother, live!
God wants us to thrive!
Tobias Pinckney at Powered to Witness University, 6/26/17
© 2017 Tobias Pinckney