God had made a promise to Abraham, and part of that promise was the Abraham would have a son who would carry on the family line. He and Sarah waited a long time, but the promised son didn’t arrive, and they were getting old. So Sarah said to Abraham: “Why don’t we take my maid-servant Hagar, and try for a baby with her?” So Abraham did, and along came Ishmael. So it seemed that Ishmael would be the promised son. But God had other plans: and when Abraham were very old, they had a son of their own, and his name was Isaac.
One day, when Isaac was about three years old, and Ishmael about sixteen, a bit party was held for Isaac. All the fuss must have made Ishmael very jealous. He mocked his half-brother Isaac. this made Sarah very angry. She said to Abraham: “Get rid of that woman and her son.” Abraham was very upset about this, but God said, “Yes, do it. Send them away.”
So Abraham gives Hagar and Ishamel as much food and water as they could carry, and off they go into the desert. There they wander, getting more and more lost. In the end, they give up. Hagar gets Ishmael to lie down under a bush, because all the shlter there is, and she sits down some distance away, because she can’t bear to watch him die.
God’s plan seems to have gone horribly wrong as far as Hagar and Ishmael were concerned. “Why has God allowed this to happen to us?” they might well have cried. What a mess. What a muddle.
But there are two sides to this story. God had already promised good things for Ishmael, Gen 16:10; 17:20.
In the present chapter:-
Ishmael is thirsty, v15. God gives him water, v19.
He is alone, v16. God gives his presence, v20.
He is dying, v17. God gives him life, v18.
There’s a lesson here for all of us. We know that God has promised good things to those who put their trust in him. But sometimes it’s very hard to believe. We look at what’s happening in our lives, and we think, “Where is God in this?” “Does God really care?” Sometimes, all we can see is the messy, muddled side of life. Bu god is weaving a wonderful tapestry, and one day, we’ll be able to see the pattern in it all.
This is borne out in the experience of Joseph, Gen 50:20.
Then the death of Christ was, on the one hand, the greatest tragedy of all, yet also the greatest triumph, Acts 2:23; 3:15.
And we know that God is able to bring good out of all circumstances for those who live him, who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28).
May God help us all to face even life’s biggest disappointments, knowing that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who lived us, and knowing that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.