She sits with her back to her son, just a bow shot away. She says to herself that she will not watch her child die, and she cries.
There is no water in the skin, no food in the bag and no hope in her heart.
She remembers the birth of Isaac, her mistress’ son. She should have known then that this day would come, but she closed her eyes to the possibility. She was secure then, a slave turned wife, believing herself to be the bearer of the child of a promise. A woman unused to power, she mocked and scorned her mistress. But Ishmael was never the child of a promise, but the fruit of human plans and purposes.
"Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."
The words hurt. She had thought herself to be a wife and now she realises that she was never more than just a slave.
She is not equipped to be where she is. Does Abraham not realise that she is incapable of making decisions for herself? She looks back along the path they have travelled and hopes for him to come for her. For all of her life she had been dependent upon others. How can she now provide for her son? It is impossible.
She calls to mind the things best forgotten, but chooses not to remember the things that matter.
Her child also carries a promise. She remembers some of the words spoken to her all those years ago when she had run away to the desert. A prophecy, more than a promise – that he will be a wild donkey of a man, with every man’s hand against him, living in hostility to all his brothers.
But she forgets that every time she speaks her son’s name, there is a promise from God to claim.
Ishmael – “God Hears”.
So she sits with her back to her son, just a bow shot away. She says to herself that she will not watch her child die, and she cries.
She cries not out loud to God. He cannot hear what she will not say. Her silence ties His hands.
God hears! Not Hagar who will not call to him. But Ishmael. God hears the cries of her son. Suddenly Hagar eyes are open and she sees the well of water.
If only she could see the promise in her son’s name.
Inspired by Genesis 21
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