The Miracle of Hope
Yael Eckstein | August 30, 2023
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” — Genesis 21:15-17
Miracles are central to both the Jewish and Christian faiths, and both biblical narratives are replete with miracles. Enjoy this collection of devotional teachings on the nature of God’s awe-inspiring signs and wonders.
Genesis tells the dramatic story of Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham’s wife and son, who were sent away at Sarah’s request. They wandered through the desert until they ran out of the provisions that Abraham had given them and became weak.
As a mother, I cannot imagine Hagar’s despair, banished from her home with her young son, the hot sun beating down on them, neither food nor water in sight. Hagar ultimately accepted that her beloved son would die.
The verse tells us, “she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there, she began to sob.” In the next verse, we read that “God heard the boy crying.”
The Miracle of Hope
Both mother and son lay there crying, abandoned and starving in the desert. Why did God hear the cries of Ishmael and not those of Hagar? Aren’t the cries of a heartbroken mother for her dying child the most powerful tears you could imagine?
The Jewish sages explain that Hagar was crying because she had already given up hope. She walked away from Ishmael because she was certain that he would die. Ishmael, on the other hand, had a pure, childlike faith. He still had a spark of hope; he was crying for his mother, for salvation, for the miracle of hope.
The name “Ishmael” means “God heard.” God heard his cries and made a well appear, saving Hagar and Ishmael from certain death. When we hold onto the simple faith that anything is possible, God will hear our cries and make miracles. That is the miracle of hope.
No matter how hopeless your situation may seem, remember that God can do anything. If you cry out, He will hear you.