Events present us with opportunities, but that’s often hard to see when we’re worried. Hope can be hard to see when events seem against it. As we find ourselves navigating the emotions from loss and despair as well as so much uncertainty, we can often miss the invitation to hope. Genesis doesn’t flinch from the reality of uncertainty and despair, but it often gives us examples of hope in the midst of those events.
For Hagar and Ishmael, to be cast out of their home, to be sent into the wilderness with only some bread and a skin of water (how far did Abraham expect them to go on that), is putting their lives in danger. And yet, once the messenger’s voice comes, there is tenderness and recognition of the dire circumstances they face. God has heard the voice of the boy, and yet we haven’t; we only hear of Hagar’s weeping. What exactly does God hear that we don’t? Is it because we’re not attentive to others in our weeping for ourselves, or perhaps our inability to recognize weeping when we encounter it?
As with Isaac and laughter, Ishmael means ‘God will hear,’ which is precisely what happens. In laughter and in weeping God hears, and God is present with us. The death of Ishmael is averted because God hears and eyes are opened to see hope in a hopeless situation. Maybe the message of this story comes once, like Hagar, we acknowledge the limits of what we can do. Maybe, only once we acknowledge where hope ends and our despair begins, can we cease trying to create hope for ourselves. In those moments, maybe what we can see and hear is hope that comes from people and events we aren’t responsible for, or can achieve on own. I wonder, when we find ourselves in hopeless situations and weeping for ourselves and others, what hope might look like, where we might find it, and how we can hear and see hope?
Like Hagar, I find myself tired a lot these days, tired in just about every way you can describe; so tired I sometimes lie down. There is despair in a tired that heavy, but it doesn’t have to just be hopeless, it can be the limit of what I can do to care for myself and care for others. I know God cares, and God continues to care when I can’t. It’s then that we’re most likely to find hope and, if we’re attentive, we’ll hear the sound of hope and see a future where God is with us too.
Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom
Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Sunday Evening Prayer on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.