Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. 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.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. – Genesis 21:14-21 (NIV)
Hagar and her son Ishmael were perhaps one of the first single parent families. Abraham did not seem to be overly concerned for his son and Hagar as he must have known that the amount of food and water he gave them were not adequate to survive for long in the desert. When Abraham sent them off he was sentencing them to death unless God intervened. Perhaps since God said he would be the father of a great nation Abraham trusted God to provide for Hagar and her son. A less gracious reading would be that he was merely getting rid of a problem that was causing family strife, but either way it was pretty harsh treatment from the father of two great nations.
When the water in the water skin was gone Hagar must have been hopeless and sure that they would parish from thirst. By the grace of God I have never had to be a single parent trying to raise children, but I can imagine there are times when single parents feel a bit like Hagar in the desert. What I can’t imagine is how she must have felt leaving her son under a bush to die. She must have felt that the “God who sees me” had somehow lost sight of her.
What is interesting is that it seems that Hagar had also lost sight of God. God opened Hagar’s eyes and the well of water was visible. This implies to me that the water well was always there but she could not see it. She was not standing in the right spot or her eyes were not open wide enough. All groundwater is in fact hidden –it is there but we cannot see it. Sometimes God’s hand in our lives can be a bit like groundwater. I think there are many times when God provides “hidden wells” for us that we miss because we are either not willing to see them or we are too distracted to notice. We careen through our days with our water skins almost empty while God is busy placing “hidden wells” across our path hoping we will see them and fill our water skins with living water to refresh our souls as well as our bodies.
Prayer: God open our eyes to see the hidden wells and blessings you are providing for us.