December 20

Read Genesis 21:1-21.

The story of Hagar is a story about being second. It’s a story of what happens when things don’t work out like we had hoped. The hard truths of injustice. The reality that we will not all be great. That most of us will experience moments where we are forgotten, passed over, un-chosen by the world. 

But God does not define Hagar by the things done to her by others, or by her own mistakes. And just because Hagar is not the hero of the story, the chosen one, the winner, does not mean that God has forgotten her or the promises that were made to her. 

In the same way, God does not forget us. 

When things in life do not turn out the way we hoped, it is tempting to think that God has forgotten us. Others will tell us that is a fact. The story of Hagar and Ishmael refutes this. God has a different plan for these two. No, they will not be the ones through whom the treasured promise comes but that does not mean they are not important to God.

Hagar and Ishmael’s future was different than either could have imagined, but that doesn’t mean it was of less value to God. In these moments, in the face of dying dreams and hopes, God hears and sees our cries. In the midst of the desert God reveals a new source of life, a new purpose. 

Pray

Dear God, this Advent when we feel defeated and unseen, help us to see the promises, the future, you have in store for us, even when the road seems blocked and the way forward unsure. Amen.

Rev. Brenna Hesch Overland

Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church (Bay City, MI)

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