Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Genesis 16:13
God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears and He will deliver.
- Mercy: love that responds to human need in an unexpected or unmerited way.
- The sovereignty of God: His ability to exercise His holy will to accomplish what He has resolved (by using His unlimited power).
When Ishmael was a teenager, God told Abraham to send his son and the mother away. Imagine his sorrow… letting go of his teenage son, one who he saw grow and whom he raised. And the truth of the matter is that, Abraham probably never saw his son again, and Ishmael never saw his dad again. Their suffering was not spared. Abraham provided food and drink for them, but their food ran out. As any mother would, Hagar wept and worried for her child. She figured they would die in the wilderness, but God sent an angel to tell her that ‘He heard Ishmael’. Except that the bible does not say they prayed, so what did God hear exactly?
God opened her eyes, and she was able to see a water well, to drink from. If God’s mercy had not reached them, they would have died (Genesis 22:2–8). The Lord sovereignly realigned their expected outcome with His perfect will. The angel spoke on behalf of God, and also promised Hagar, that He would make a great nation of Ishmael. Ishmael was Abram’s son too and God had already promised to bless Abraham’s descendants and make them great in number. So God aligned for Ishmael to be part of the blessing.
On another note, God did not have mercy on Abraham, because he still suffered the loss and separation from his son Ishmael. And to this day, the enemies of Israel are the Ishmaelites (Arabs). Ishmael brought division, which still exists today (Islam and Judaism: this is not heresy, people simply do not address it). So as I was meditating on this story, I remembered that Hagar and Ishmael had nothing to do with being rejected and abandoned. Mercy flows freely because God hears the prayers of our hearts. Even if we are at a loss of words, God knows the true and deepest petitions of our hearts and the pain afflicting us. The Lord saw the affliction Hagar and Ishmael were going through. And He had mercy on them.
This was God’s sovereign will and His mercy working together, and God can work in this same way in our lives. Ishmael means “God hears”, in Hebrew. Maybe your name is not Ishmael… but God knows exactly what you are experiencing. God knows all things, sees all things, and is all powerful- but we do have free will. And He has both sovereignty and mercy for your life.