Anger acts like a cloud over our rational thinking and judgement, causing us to easily lose perspective. As a result we often make poor choices when angry.

In today’s reading, I think Sarah was not only angry but also felt jealous and regretful. She had just watched Ishmael mock her son at an important family event and she was mad. Her response had consequences that completely changed Ishmael and Hagar’s lives. 

Sarah was very aware that Ishmael existed because of her idea to help God fulfil His promise to Abraham. She regretted that decision from the moment Hagar became pregnant. Regret is a strong emotion; I’m sure Sarah thought many times, “if only I hadn’t said anything, if only I’d been more patient!” 

After seeing how Ishmael treated Isaac, Sarah had had enough. She demanded Abraham get rid of Ishmael and Hagar for good, so that Abraham’s heir would clearly be Isaac, and not diluted in any way. This saddened Abraham. 

This was where God stepped in, and His response seemed very surprising. He told Abraham to do what Sarah had asked. God would care for Hagar and Ishmael, also making Ishmael into a great nation. This helps us to remember that God can even redeem our mistakes. However, Abraham had to trust God by letting Ishmael and Hagar leave his care. 

God reminded Abraham that Isaac was the one through whom His descendants would be counted. From Isaac’s descendants the One would come who would set people truly free from their sins and make them fellow heirs of the promise. According to Galatians 3:29,that includes us! We, because we belong to Christ, are descendants of Abraham and heirs according to the promise. We are part of the family as children of God! 

When Hagar was pregnant and had fled to the desert (see chapter 16:12), God told her Ishmael was going to live away from his brothers and be a wild donkey of a man – meaning he would be free and roam like a Bedouin. Filled with hope, she responded, “You are the God who sees me.”

However, Hagar seemed to have forgotten those promises and thought they would die in the desert. The description of her putting Ishmael under a bush because didn’t want to watch him die had for years made me assume he was a young child! But Ishmael was a teenager, most likely between 16 and 18 years old. (Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born and 100 when Isaac was born, therefore Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born.)

After Hagar walked away from Ishmael, hopelessness and fear made her cry uncontrollably. At this moment she could not see a future. Seeing his mother cry, Ishmael cried too, perhaps crying out to God. Again, God intervened giving hope to Hagar and Ishmael. The Lord reminded Hagar that Ishmael would be made into a great nation. Then, He cared for them by providing for their immediate physical need of water. 

Ishmael became a skilled archer and God kept His promises. He was with them and protected them in the desert. Hagar was no longer a slave; she found Ishmael a wife in Egypt – the beginning of a great nation! 

If you feel hopeless and abandoned – by others or God – remind yourself of God’s promises to you. I recommend writing them out as you come across them when you are reading your Bible. The Lord sees you and hears your cries. You are loved by Him and precious to Him. He is working His plans and purposes even when we cannot understand or see any hope for the future. We can trust Him. 

God is faithful. He keeps His promises even when we are not faithful. He can even redeem our mistakes. If you are filled with regret, confess it to the Lord, and others as needed, then know and receive the Lord’s forgiveness. He sets you free through Christ; you are a child of the promise. Remember whose child you are and live in the freedom that comes from Christ!

“He does not deal with us as our sins deserve;

he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve.

For as the skies are high above the earth,

so his loyal love towers over his faithful followers.

As far as the eastern horizon is from the west,

so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on his faithful followers.” Psalm 103:10-13

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Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton lives in the beautiful Northern Ireland with her lovely husband and two fantastic boys. She is blessed to be able to be a stay at home mum and be involved in different ministries at her church. In her free time she likes to watch movies, play board games, and go for walks (when it’s not raining!). She enjoys listening to music of various kinds and is amazed at how much easier the right music makes mundane tasks, like cleaning. She is acutely aware of God’s undeserved love and grace lavished on her. In response, she seeks to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

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