“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.'” (genesis 21:17,18)
My son had had a rough day. Nothing extreme had happened, but if you are nine, it doesn’t need to be extreme for it to hurt. He laid down on the couch with lots of tears. I raised him up and held him. He clung to me with gasps. I held his hand for a minute, got him a cold drink, and a cool washcloth to wipe away the tears.
So little has changed through the years. I have often read the story of Hagar and her journey raising Ishmael, the son of Abraham, as the servant to his wife, Sarah. I have discussed her tears and God’s direction to take the boy by the hand with numerous Bible studies, But we always talked about this young child and his fear of something like the dark scary desert.
Reading through Genesis recently, however, I noticed that Abram (later Abraham) was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born and one hundred years old when Isaac was born and Sarah told Abraham to send Hagar and her son on their way. Earlier scripture confirms this; Genesis 16:25 tells us Ishmael was circumcised the year previously when he was 13 and Abraham was 99 years old.
This means Ishmael was not the toddler or young child we all imagine Hagar placing under the shrubs and crying out to God over. Ishmael would have been fourteen or fifteen years old. And yet, he still cried, he was afraid.
This teenager was under a bush crying. If he did mock Sarah as she claimed, (v. 9) he was likely feeling ashamed now that his actions got him and his mom kicked out of his Dad’s home. He was probably worried at he his life was to be like since he was considered a bastard. and we know he didn’t really get al0ng with too many people. Genesis 16:12 says, “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
Just as he was hitting those teenage years and needed a father, he was cast out of Abraham’s home. He was worried about his mother. He just felt like crying. and the angel of God told Hagar that God heard her son crying, to sit him upright, hold his hand, and get him something to drink.
I remember laying in the bed of the hospital alone as the surgeon came in to do the big debriefing of my ankle. I had been there a week with the flesh eating bacteria. I was alone. And afraid. Hey, I am a chicken when it comes to real pain. I think even sleep dentistry is the coolest thing around. a nurse came and leaned over and said, “I will be here the whole time. I wont leave your side. Hold my hand and squeeze it when it hurts. Just pretend I am your mom.”
We all need someone to hold our hands when it hurts.
Prayer: God, there are times no one is there to hold my hand. I sit through so many medical procedures alone and people thinkit is not a big deal because I do it so frequently. but it is a big deal. and it is so lonely. Lord, hold my hand and be with me–always.
About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.
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Have you ever gone through an experience that brought on fear and anxiety and you thought, I should be able to handle this? but really you just wanted a hand to hold?