“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. Isaiah 54;11
Hagar knew what it was to face death. She experienced an isolation in the wilderness that offered no comfort. She held her nearly dead child in her arms. Voice weak, completely dehydrated, and half starved. No water or provision of food was in sight. She smelled death but refused to succumb to what seemed to be the inevitable. She poured out her complaint to the God of Israel. Hagar said, “Let me not look on the death of my 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? 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.” Genesis 21:16-18
Where did Hagar learn to do this? From the very ones who forced her out of their presence. Abraham and Sarah. Oh, the irony.
I’ve cupped my hands around things that appeared to be dying. Dreams, health, ministries, faith. From all appearances, many would have said that hoping was foolish. Death was staring me in the face. All options were obscure at best.
Hagar, the least likely ministry leader, shows each of us the way to glory. She prayed, listened, cast her hopes on God, and then obeyed. She lifted up her boy to the God who breathes life into dead souls. She could not know that a thousand years later, Ezekiel would watch God breathe over a whole valley of corpses and bring them to their feet. By the breath of His mouth, He would transform skeletons into warriors.
Has God been true to His promise? Did he make Ishmael the father of a great nation? Yes. Many Palestinians have, and will, trust Christ. When they meet their Lord, how passionate they are!
Will God hear me when I take what is weak, infirmed, perhaps even dead, and lift it toward heaven? Yes. Hagar was told to lift Ishmael up and hold him fast with her hand. Instead of laying him down in defeat, she embraced him in heartfelt prayer. And oh, what an outcome.
You long to breathe over all things expired. Amen
Reflection: Hopeless talk infects an atmosphere of faith. What have you recently declared hopeless? Pick it up. Cup your hands around it. Lift it up to feel the breath of a life-giving God.