Many, many years ago there was a woman named Hagar with a son named Ishmael in Hebrew or Ismail, in Arabic.
Twice, this mother found herself in the desert alone. Once having fled the home where she had no place and was unwanted and once where she was sent away for the same reason.
Both times in the desert, she was helped by God.
When she was pregnant and in the desert alone, the angel of the Lord found her and said “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, or the Lord has heard of your misery.”
The angel of the Lord told Hagar, prophesying about her son, “He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
She called the name of the God who spoke to her, El Roi meaning, “The God who sees me.”
Years later, when Hagar and her son were once again in the desert, having been sent away, wandering, and had exhausted the meager resources they were given, Hagar prepared for the worst thing a mother can experience: the death of her child.
“And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, ‘Let me not see the death of the boy.’ So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.’”
God heard again. He heard the child, Ishmael.
“And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, ‘What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”
Last Saturday, when the most horrible images were coming out of Israel and I was asking God, accusing God, one of the things He told me was that I don’t hear all He hears nor do I see what He sees.
All day yesterday, I felt aware of the pain of a mother and child who were unseen by people. They were not loved by those who should love them. They were alone. I knew that God was letting me feel the hearts of mothers and children in Gaza.
Before my Jewish friends take offense, you have to understand even though you may not feel it in the world, you are seen and loved by those who defend you.
Even when you lose in the court of public opinion, you have a country that fights for you, not one a group that builds headquarters under your children’s schools and hospitals.
You have an iron dome. There are mothers who have nothing. They cannot use hashtags and emojis as a shield against cement blocks falling around the children who were born into this.
Israel is a country the size of New Jersey surrounded by enemies, but the mothers in Gaza are surrounded by friends who turn their backs on them: nations who offer support with their lips and then close their doors to her. Egypt’s border is closed. Jordan’s border is closed. They are prevented by the very group that says they are fighting for them from fleeing for cover when they need to.
They are alone in a way none of us will ever experience.
The fleeting support of the Internet is fickle. Ten months ago it was the Ukraine people were passionate about. Where is that passion now? Many only posted because they feel obligated to say something, anything and their lukewarm “many on both sides are hurting” posts cannot serve as sustenance to a woman and child alone in a desert.
Even aid that should go towards food is diverted into weapons. These mothers and children are alone.
Yesterday, the heart of a mother alone with her child in a desert felt like a gulf of hopelessness. It was quiet and the abandonment was so profound it echoed. There was a knowing no one was coming. I kept seeing a woman and child that reminded me of Hagar and Ishmael alone, surrounded by sand.
But then there was a Light.
The hope for Hagar and Ishmael was not in any army. It was not in people who did not know their names. It was not in marches. It was in the God who sees and hears.
Many people believe the angel of the Lord described twice was Yeshua, Jesus. The text does not say but that is the belief of many scholars.
The hope for the mother and child alone in a desolate place is not in people who have failed them and a life that has deteriorated.
Genesis 21:19 continues the story.
After God heard in the desert the second time, the angel of the Lord spoke to her, assured her of God’s presence and help. Not only that, He gave her vision of water that was already there. One she could not see, but with His help, her eyes were opened.
“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.”
The hope for the mother and child alone today, right now is in God through Jesus and the living water that flows from Him.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well many years later, He said: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14
It is my prayer that God comforts the hearts of the women and children in deserts of help with parched lips and parched hearts with the living water of Jesus Himself.
Yes, I pray they are given physical food, physical safety, and physical water, but I also pray that as He has done for so many, including myself, I pray Yeshua would meet them in those desolate places and give them living water, the kind you have once and never thirst again. The kind this world can never take away.
Hagar in Hebrew means “forsaken.” In Arabic, the same name, Hajar means “to flee.”
Ishmael’s name however, means “God has heard,” in both languages and I know the God of Abraham, Ishmael's earthly father, is hearing the cries both silent and spoken of innocent children caught up in the affairs of nations at war.
The Redeemer of Hagar and Ishmael still lives and is not bound by any territory made by men. He does not rely on rockets or social media to wage war. He is above public opinion. His power is not dependent on the votes of any nation or alliance and He sees and hears those no one else does.
He brings water to dry places and light to dark ones. He is the Light.
Last Saturday God reminded me He is utterly disinterested in my judgments on what I think He should do and allow.
There are mothers and children trapped together in impossible situations because of the actions of men. Jesus loves, sees and hears.
I pray that He goes into those places and reveals Himself as the Deliverer He is.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”