by: Sandy Domelle
Reading about the different women of the Bible is always interesting to me. Many times I notice something I never noticed before as I study the verses that go with the life of a lady in the Bible. Recently, I was talking with a lady who is raising her children on her own. We talked about the many areas where she struggled as her relationship with her husband fell apart, and how she carries the burden of raising three children on her own. I listened as she poured her heart out a bit and I began to think about Hagar. I went back home and studied Genesis 16:6-21, the story of Hagar’s life, so that I could be a better encouragement to this lady. How sad it is that the single parent home is considered the “norm” in life. Hagar was just that, she was the first single parent home we read about in the Bible.
When we read about this story, we start with Sarah and realize that she knew God had promised Abraham his own seed. Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, and this began to eat at her. Sarah was just like many women today; she grew impatient waiting on the Lord and His timing, so she took matters into her own hands. Eventually, Sarah offered Hagar, her maid, to her husband so that they could have a child through her. This was not God’s plan for Sarah, and she ultimately brought grief to their family by rushing things to fit her timetable. This grief wasn’t something that just affected Sarah, but like all sin, it has fingers that reach beyond the person who commits the sin. This affected her whole family for many generations to come.
Hagar became pregnant, and like any woman who is expecting, she was full of excitement. The Bible tells us that Sarah went to Abraham upset that Hagar had conceived. Abraham told Sarah, “Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.” Sarah allowed her bitterness and anger to control how she dealt with Hagar. The Bible says Sarah dealt harshly with Hagar, which caused her to flee into the wilderness. God sent an angel to Hagar to comfort her and to send her back to Abraham and Sarah. Hagar obeyed and went back, and we see several chapters later that Sarah again became upset with her when she saw Ishmael mocking Isaac. Sarah was fed up and asked Abraham to cast Hagar and Ishmael out. Abraham, being very grieved at this request, sent them away to keep Sarah happy. When Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away, the only thing he gave them was bread and a bottle of water. Abraham didn’t send Hagar away with much, and you can imagine she felt completely deserted as she wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. I can only imagine how discouraged and alone she must have felt. She had her son, but very little provision to care for him. Finally, the food and water were gone. They wandered and had nowhere to go. The Bible says she cast Ishmael under a shrub and then she sat a good way off. She couldn’t bear to sit there and watch her son die. She was alone, forsaken, and had nothing. God heard the cry of Ishmael and sent an angel to call out to Hagar. Once again the angel comforted her, and God opened her eyes and she saw a well. God didn’t forget about her or forsake her; He was there the whole time. When they cried out, He met their need.
There are a four things we can learn about being a single parent from this story.
1. God still loves you.
You may feel alone because your spouse left you. You may have lost all of your most prized earthly possessions, and you may not feel that anyone cares, but God still cares. He has provided us a Bible full of promises to claim. Many times when the hard times come we want to curl up in a ball and forget about life. This is a time when we need to plan to spend more time with God and realize that, even if we can’t see any direct change in life or feel any certain answer to prayer, God still loves us and promises to care for His children. God is always there loving us through the hurts that we face. Many friends and loved ones will be watching us through our trials to see how we respond. Though we are hurting, God’s love for us, and our dependence on Him can be one of the greatest ways to be a testimony for Him.
2. God won’t forsake you.
When divorce comes, you feel abandoned. Getting up each day and pushing forward may be the hardest thing you do each day. God is bigger than any problem we are facing. He cares deeply for His children, and He wants the very best for us. When I look at Hagar’s life, both times when she ended up in the wilderness God was there. The angel called out to her by name, and this shows that God knew exactly where she was and that he hadn’t forsaken her. God sent an angel to let her know He still had plans for her life. It wasn’t the end of her world, there was much more to conquer.
You may have been through the ugliest divorce, but your life isn’t over. It may feel that way, but God has much more for you. If you give up easily, you’ll never see what God has in store for you because of your faithfulness to Him. God knows where you are, He hears your cry, He will provide for your needs and He is always with His children. Hebrews 13:5, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
3. God will provide for you.
Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God provided a well for Hagar both times she was in the wilderness; He made sure she was cared for, and likewise, God will provide for you and won’t leave you empty handed. Do you remember the Widow at Zarephath? Elijah came to her to be fed. She told him she only had a handful of meal and a little oil, but God provided and had her meal and oil last until the drought ended. This widow was a single parent as well. You can’t help but enjoy reading these stories and seeing how God provided for these single parents, widows, and ladies in need.
God wants to hear our needs. I have prayer promises written down that I run to when I feel overwhelmed with a situation and just have to see the Lord work. I think it’s so important to have Scriptures memorized so that in the hard times they are what we can recite and keep dwelling on to keep the Devil from getting the victory over our spirit. Many love Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” But, two verses that always come to my mind are Isaiah 30:19, “….thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.” and Isaiah 65:24, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Just reading these verses gives me such comfort. I can quote them to myself throughout the day and know that my God has promised to provide for me. If you feel He’s not providing, many times it’s because you and God have two different ideas on what your “need” is. God always knows what I need and He provides exactly what I need, when I need it. “God’s answers are rarely early, never late, but always on time!”
4. God provides companionship.
You’re never alone, for God is always there. God sent his angel to Hagar, and I can’t help but wonder a bit about this. We have faith there is a God and that He is real, but sometimes we just need to see, touch or feel the presence of the Lord. I think that the angel being there met that need for Hagar. There was no doubt that God knew where she was and that she needed to know that she wasn’t alone. God could talk to her, but sending an angel gave Hagar the comfort and encouragement she needed.
Though God could talk to us if He wanted to, many times He sends people to us when we are struggling to help give us companionship. When people try to help us during these times, be sure to accept their help.
One last thought concerning the life of Hagar. Divorce isn’t the end of the world for you or your children. There are many people who went on to do great things after their parents were divorced. Ishmael became the father of a great nation that exists even to this day. A single parent is tempted to treat their children differently because of the hardship the divorce has caused in their life. Even though your child has suffered and faced obstacles because of the divorce, you cannot baby them or discipline them differently. You must continue to rear them like you would if you were still married.
If you are reading this and circumstances have left you the single parent, don’t give up! When those circumstances come, you must pull yourself together, move on and not let it destroy your life and the life of your children. God’s promises are there for us to claim. II Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Decide you won’t allow the Devil to have the victory in your life. You can raise children who turn out right and serve the Lord. You are not alone!