ISSL Reflections January 9 2022 Genesis 21:8–20 Post 3

Let’s look at the folk in this account once again, and see if you notice the kind or kinds of wilderness each encounters.

Genesis 21:8-20 (NRSV)

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

Wilderness comes up again and again in Scripture as a place that humankind finds itself in. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally.

If we go back to Genesis 16, we see, “Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness…” (vv 6-7)

And here in Genesis 21, we find, “… [Hagar] departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba…. Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.” (vv 14, 19)

Hagar finds herself in the wilderness again and again. But notice, God is able to find her here and be present to her. One one occasion she finds a “spring of water” and God. On another, God helps her find a “well of water” she could not find.

In what wildernesses might God find others in this account?

For that matter, how might God meet you in your wilderness?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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