I can just picture the scene. The family is gathered around this delightful new baby, all scrubbed and clean. A hush descends and the baby’s name is proclaimed. This was a significant moment, for the name of the baby spoke loudly about his/her character, and the situation of the family.
“Ishamael. His name is Ishmael. God hears, and this family is proclaiming that our God hears. I have waited a long time for a son, but God has heard me.”
I understand too, that the mother’s name changed, so Hagar would now have the title ‘Mother of Ishmael’, proclaiming loud and clear her new status. (Genesis 16 v 15)
One woman hovers in the background. Sarai. Happy for her husband, and glad to see a new baby in a household that badly needs one, but feeling so out of place and alone.
She hears the name – God hears. But has God heard her? Doesn’t he know her sadness? Why is she left out? What has she done wrong?
Of course, all this is guesswork. And another thing we don’t know, is whether she had ever asked God for a child. There is no record of her ever praying for a baby. What we do have, is the solution which she had come up with herself, which had so spectacularly backfired, and which she was witnessing the results of just now.
When we have a problem, we need to make sure we ask God specifically, and not just moan and whinge, or wonder why, while searching around for an earthly solution. Sometimes it does feel like God is not hearing us. I remember my grandmother proclaiming, when my sister was very ill, “God must think I think he’s deaf!”
And then comes the hardest part. Waiting in faith. Trusting the God who hears for the outcome.