coffee and a Bible

Don’t Let Me See the Boy Die (Genesis 21:16)

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It’s one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Scripture.

When Hagar is in the wilderness — cast away from her home and given few provisions to survive — the situation turns from bad to worse in a hurry. Her water runs out and she has no home to go to (or return to).

She is completely and utterly alone.

Placing her crying child behind a bush, she begs God to spare the ultimate pain of any parent: Watching their child die.

It’s a phrase I hope I never have to utter.

God Cared For Hagar

It may look bleak, but Hagar has been in this situation before. In Genesis 16, Sarah becomes jealous of Hagar’s ability to conceive and abuses her to the point of driving Hagar into the wilderness.

There, God asks her a single question: “Where are you going?”

Despair turns into hope as God tells Hagar that she’ll indeed have that child that’s growing in her belly, and even though he won’t be the child of promise, he’ll still be a great nation.

What more could a mother want?

Abraham Cared for Hagar

Hagar’s dismissal causes anguish for Abraham, too. He may not be her legal husband, and Ishmael may not be of the lineage that fulfills the promises from Genesis 12, but the child is as much his own as Isaac is.

Because of that, Abraham loved Ishmael — and most likely cares deeply for Hagar, too.

God actually speaks up in Genesis 21:13 to assure Abraham that Ishmael will be taken care of too. Based on this belief in God, he gives her the provisions he thinks she needs and sends her away. As far as we know, Abraham never saw Hagar and Ishmael again.

The Promise to Hagar

Thankfully, God heard Hagar’s pleas and sent His angel to remind Hagar about the promise He made to her all those years previously. 

Ishmael would live, God would provide, and he would be a great nation.

Mourning turns into joy as Hagar not only doesn’t have to watch her son die, but also (presumably) gets to watch him turn into something truly special.

I hope I never have to utter those words to God about my own children, but if I do, I pray that God will hear me too.