He held tightly to her hand. She could tell he was getting tired. Of course, he’s tired. They had been walking for hours, looking for – she wasn’t sure what.
“Mama, I’m thirsty.” It was a hot, sunny day and his light brown curls were wet with sweat.
“I know, sweet boy.”
“And hungry, too.”
“I know.” She squeezed his hand. How desperately she wished she had something to give him. But she had nothing – nothing to drink, nothing to eat. She didn’t know what to do.
She hadn’t wanted this for him – suffering, lack, rejection. She hadn’t been given a choice.
“Come.” She pulled him over to a bush. “You sit under here. It’s cooler, see?”
The bush offered only a little patch of shade, but it was enough to keep the sun from beating down on his head and he smiled as he sat down under it.
Thanks! She almost laughed. How can he thank me? His throat was parched, his clothes were dirty, his feet sore.
She had failed him! She had failed them both!
Leaving him in the shade of the bush, she walked a bit further and fell to her knees. She was crying and she didn’t want him to see. He was dying and she didn’t want to see.
Oh, how she wished he had never been born! Never been born to suffer. Never been born to see his father abandon them. Never been born to be thrown away.
A Reoccurring Story
This story may sound familiar. It could describe the lives of countless mothers and their children.
No food, home, or father. These are just a few of the difficulties many have had to face. It is these very difficulties that lead some women to believe it would be better to abort their child than to give them life.
A life of suffering, lack, and rejection – what kind of life would that be?
Wouldn’t abortion be a better option? Better for the mom? Better even for the child?
Let’s revisit our story.
While it fits the lives of many, this is actually the true story of a certain mom and her little boy. Their story starts several years before that hot sunny day on which they felt so desperate.
It starts with a slave girl named Hagar who belonged to Abram and Sarai.
Hagar’s mistress, Sarai couldn’t have children, but she and her husband, Abram, desperately wanted a son. So, Sarai gave Hagar to Abram as a wife, hoping she would bear him the child which Sarai could not herself.
Hagar had no choice in the matter. She went from being a slave to a “wife”. Which may sound like an improvement, however, though she was a wife in name and in duty, she was without either the love or the rights a wife should have.
She did become pregnant. But, instead of making things better, the pregnancy seemed to make them worse. Sarai was jealous of Hagar and Abram, instead of protecting the mother of his child, told Sarai, “your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” (Genesis 16:6, ESV)
Pregnant and alone, Hagar fled the harsh treatment of Sarai.
A Familiar Problem?
You’ve probably been told at some point the Bible is outdated and irrelevant. It is easy to think this book, written centuries ago, has nothing to say about the issues which cause our culture to debate today. Nothing to say to the pregnant mother who finds herself alone and in trouble. Nothing to say to the issues of a crisis pregnancy or abortion.
This simply isn’t true.
In Genesis 16, we find a girl who faced circumstances just as difficult and as complicated as women and girls are facing today.
So what happened? What did Hagar do?
Hagar hadn’t chosen this pregnancy – it was forced upon her. She hadn’t chosen to be in a bad situation, yet here she was. With no one to turn to and no way to erase the past.
For Hagar, abortion wasn’t even an option.
Now, many in our society would say, “That’s a shame!” “The poor girl.” “This is exactly why we need to give women the right to choose.” “This is why abortion needs to be legal and available to anyone.”
After hearing Hagar’s story, you might agree, but there was another solution – one which helped both Hagar and her unborn child.
Introducing the Solution
Hagar was left with only one option — to turn to God. She fell to her knees and prayed.
In Genesis 16, we are told the Angel of the Lord found Hagar and, after hearing of her situation, told her to return and submit to Sarai.
That may not have been the solution you were expecting! Returning to an abusive situation doesn’t sound like a solution at all!
But God wasn’t finished. He didn’t plan to leave Hagar there. He didn’t intend to make her and her baby suffer needlessly. And yes, He did have a plan.
God told Hagar he was going to turn the difficulty she was facing into good. That the baby who seemed to be causing her so much trouble would become a blessing to her. God told Hagar he knew her unborn son by name. His name was Ishmael, which means “the Lord has listened to your affliction.”
Both Hagar and her baby belonged to God. He knew of their suffering. He had a plan for their lives. A plan which included difficulty and sorrow but didn’t end in those things.
In God, Hagar found the help she needed. Genesis 16:13 (ESV) tells us, “She called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’” Hagar returned to Abram and Sarai in obedience to God, trusting Him to care for her.
Would It Last?
God promised to take care of Hagar and her unborn child. The question is, did He? Was God faithful? Did He keep his promise to this mother and her child?
Hagar had her baby — a little boy, just as God had said. She named him Ishmael. Abram was happy, Sarai was happy, Hagar was happy, and it seemed like everything was going to work out.
A few years later, Sarai became pregnant and had a son of her own. Suddenly, Hagar and Ishmael were no longer wanted. Mother and child were sent away with nothing!
This is the part of the story I started with. A crying mother. A boy dying of dehydration. Both of them abandoned and homeless.
It sounds pretty dismal, but let me tell you how that story ends:
Ishmael, as he was sitting in the shade of the bushes, called out to God and once again, God showed up. God came to help Hagar and Ishmael a second time!
“‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:17-19, ESV)
God quieted Hagar’s fears, provided for their needs, and promised to continue doing so.
Does God Care for the Mothers of Today?
To the girl who is facing real problems: poverty, rape, an unplanned pregnancy, or an uninvolved or abusive father. This story is for you.
Years, thousands of years, before you found yourself in this situation, God wrote a story to show you He sees all, He knows the difficulty you are walking through, and He has a plan.
To those who don’t want to bring a child into this world because they are afraid that child will suffer, please know that while God’s plans often include difficulties, they are not meaningless. God is an expert at converting difficulty into good.
To those who are in need of help but don’t know where to turn, turn to the God who sees, who knows both you and your child by name and ask him to look after you. When all the world seemed to have forgotten Hagar and Ishmael, there was one who hadn’t. One who saw every tear, every struggle, all their fear. He was able to provide for them, to protect them, to help them in practical ways and He did!
He will do it again. Because he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change. The God who helped Hagar and Ishmael doesn’t turn a blind eye on the mothers and children of today.