Studying Genesis 21:8-21 with Beth Moore this morning, the story came alive in a way it never had.
She and Ishmael were sent away by Abraham (at God’s command) and were wandering the desert. Finally, in desperation, she puts her son under a bush, then leaves so she doesn’t have to watch him die. As Beth Moore puts it, “In her hopeless state, whether or not to watch her son die was the solitary choice left to make.” What hopelessness and despair she must have felt!
Then an angel of the Lord appeared and asked a question. “What troubles you?” At first glance, the question seems almost cruel from ignorance. “What troubles you???” Oh, if only he knew! Don’t we feel that way sometimes? Someone asks what troubles us and we think… “You would never ask if you have any idea what I am going through right now.”
But the beauty of it is… God did know. He knew exactly where Hagar and Ishmael were and He knew what troubled them. And with all that He knew, the next words are even more profound.
“Fear not?” Hagar must have thought. Not only does this angel ask the ridiculous question “What troubles you?” now He has the audacity to say “Fear not!?” But we know what Hagar did not. We know that God was standing before her and that because He knew what was happening, His command of “fear not” was the most beautiful that could be given.
It was because He knew what troubled Hagar that He could say “fear not.” He knew that there was nothing to fear, because His plan for Hagar and Ishamael and the world was much bigger than Hagar’s fear of Ishmael’s death. God’s plan is always bigger than our fears. And when we can see even a glimpse of His plan, we get a glimpse of eternity. And we can see that, it becomes clear that there is never any reason to fear. For God, who works all things together for our good, is painting a picture of our lives that is beautiful. Nothing that happens to us is trouble when we know God is in it. And because He sees all, we can entirely trust in Him when He tells us to ‘fear not.’