When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. But Sarah saw Ishmael-the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar- making fun of her son, Isaac. So she turned to Abraham and demanded, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won't have it! This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. But God told Abraham, "Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar's son because he is your son, too." So Abraham got up early the next morning...he sent her [Hagar] away with their son...and God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness.
If you're not familiar with the story you can read it in Genesis 21. I used to get so indignant over this passage. How could God tell Abraham to send his son away?!?!? That's not right! That's not being a good father! I know Ishmael was a product of Abraham and Sarah's unbelief and sin but couldn't God have worked it out so that they could be one big happy family?
But I've realized this isn't heaven. Sometimes God doesn't always fix things so everything is picture perfect. So everything is made right here on earth. God is up to something bigger and if we keep holding onto our fairytale we often miss what God is doing. I know I did.
I was so indignant by Ishmaael being sent away that I missed what God was up to in verse twenty. God was with the boy. God was with him! Guiding him, protecting him and being a father to the fatherless. How often in my life do I miss how God is working because I question His goodness instead of seeing the goodness God is giving to me right now?
Did Ishmael miss it? Did he always question God's goodness because Abraham wasn't there for him as a father should be? Holding onto the dream of how everything should be when this life isn't heaven? Or did he see the incredible opportunity God gave him because his lack was an opportunity for God to meet his needs and build a relationship with him in a way that Ishmael would have missed if he were still living with his earthly father?
May we always see the ways God is there for us in our lives when things seem far from fair. May we always see the goodness of God when life isn't the way we dream it should be.