Scripture Reading: Genesis 21:8-21
When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ‘Do not let me look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.
God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt. –Genesis 21:15-21
I heard a speaker once say that the difference between being poor and living in poverty is hope. Hope is what God planted in Hagar’s heart. Hope is the gift we are called to share with the hopeless. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs* states that humans must have their physical needs (food, clothing, and shelter) and safety just to survive. To thrive, we must know love and belonging, which are foundational to good self-esteem and finally self-actualization. Hope is a driving force in helping people sustain an upward climb through these levels of development.
The Save the Children organization recently released a worldwide study of the status of children and a separate piece on children in each state in the USA. They are both heartbreaking reports but provide important information we need to know. Oklahoma ranks 46th among states in tracked negative outcomes impacting the futures of children. Oklahoma’s bad rankings result primarily from its high teen birth rate and high infant mortality rate. They were the major problems in Oklahoma when I first became a social worker in 1969. We have made progress but far less than other states.
There are a lot of Ismael’s in the world today in need of necessities and safety and just as importantly in need of hope. We as followers of Christ are called to be distributors of hope. The many children in refugee camps around the world remind us of Ismael as do the children in classrooms in Oklahoma sent home on Fridays with a backpack of food because the school lunch program is believed to be the children’s primary source of nutrition.
Prayer: Lord, enable our ability to distribute hope as well as developing systems designed to help all become self-sufficient. Amen.