There are times I don’t want to watch or read the news. I so hate the unfolding scenes of violence and bloodshed, power struggles and greed. It seems in so many parts of the world ‘they live in hostility towards all their brothers’. That, of course, was said about Ishmael’s descendants. (Genesis 25 v 18) While Ishmael was still in the womb, the prophecy had been spoken by the angel of the Lord concerning him, that,
“his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
towards all his brothers.” (Genesis 16 v 12)
Well, as prophecies go, this one has certainly seen some fulfilment – and some of it is even in the news today. But I would have been more than a little upset if anyone had proclaimed it over one of my babies!
There is a sense however, that it is true of every one of us. Peace, even in loving households, is fragile, and needs a lot of working at. We misconstrue one another, we get jealous, impatient and irritated, especially if we get tired. In the workplace, or the shopping mall, or dealing with utility companies on the phone, annoyance can flare up when things do not go well for us. Oh how we need the Prince of Peace to help us control our anger and selfishness, to help us see things from other people’s perspectives, to forgive and love, and to act wisely rather than just fight back.
It’s good to remember though, that when we behave like children of Ishmael, what his name means – ‘The God who hears’. He hears us when we behave irrationally and inappropriately. But he also hears when we get ourselves into strife situations, of our own making or not. Above the din of the clash, God hears.