Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Hagar and Ishmael: A Tribute to Divine Love
St. John’s MTC, NY
13 As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.”
Inspiring the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith traditions, the story of Hagar and Ishmael remains a unifying idea which represents the ideal, universal experience of family. Family, despite all circumstances, is established as a source of support, comfort, guidance and deliverance, established and sustained through the grace of God. During the holy pilgrimage of Hajj, devout Muslims from around the world assemble in prayer, and participate in an act of devotion in which pilgrims run seven times between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa, where it is believed that the angel appeared to Hagar. This is done in remembrance of Hagar’s desperate attempt to seek water for her son, Ishmael, who Muslims believe to be ancestor to the Prophet Mohammed.
Despite doctrinal differences between the three major Abrahamic faiths, the core teaching of God as provider and sustainer of families and generations remains a commonality between all three faith traditions. Sacrifice – as seen through Hagar’s plight – is an act of selfless love motivated by faith. It is integral in the undying love between a mother and her son – paralleling the everlasting love between God the Father and His children.
This story reaches a climax when Hagar acknowledges that she is helpless before God and requires divine intervention in order to survive. Despite being cast away, Hagar remained steadfast in her love for her son as well as her faith in God’s ability to deliver in the darkest of circumstances. At this point of desperation, Hagar reaches out to God for deliverance, which He provides. Like Hagar, we must remember that only He has the power to deliver us from the darkest situations – for it is within darkness that the light of God shines at its brightest. Ishmael grew to become the leader of the Ishmaelites and established his own nation. This itself remains a testament to the infinite possibilities present within seemingly impossible circumstances. Let us pray to remember that this guiding light remains as our hope in all that we do.
O Lord our God, help us to seek solace within ourselves, peace with one another, and grace in one another. Empower us to be as firm in our faith as Hagar and as selfless in our commitment to those we love. Help us to remember that when we are alone, You are with us and that Your light will shine at its brightest. Protect us and our families in Your mercy and goodness. We pray this in Your name. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3