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Daily Devotional Genesis 21:8–34

A friend of mine needed a heart transplant. As he waited, he shared with me that it was hard for him to pray that he would receive one. He knew that for him to get a heart, it would mean a tragedy for another family. One person’s joy can be another person’s sorrow.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

PSALM 55:22

For Abraham and Sarah, the birth of Isaac brought both joy and sorrow. As Isaac grew, tensions between Sarah and Hagar also increased. In the ancient world, babies were breastfed until the child was about three years old. Since infant mortality was so high, it was a major event when a child was weaned. It meant the child had survived infancy and was far more likely to grow into adulthood. When Isaac reached this milestone, Abraham celebrated (v. 8).

For years, Ishmael thought he would inherit Abraham’s household. What were the chances Sarah would have a child? Even if she did, what were the odds the child would survive? Yet, Isaac did! At the party, Sarah noticed Hagar’s son Ishmael mocking Isaac (v. 9). Sarah responded decisively by commanding Abraham to dismiss Hagar and her son (v. 10). Abraham was distressed since he loved and cared for the child (v. 11). Yet, God instructed Abraham to follow Sarah’s command (v. 12). Apparently, it would not be a good thing for these two boys to grow up together. Abraham sent Hagar away (v. 14).

Turned out of the household and lost in the wilderness, Hagar cried out to God (vv. 14–16). God heard her cries and provided for her (v. 17), promising Hagar that the boy would become the founder of a great people (v. 18).

This passage contains important elements of the Abraham story: God’s clear choice of Isaac; the complications arising from sinful decisions; and God’s grace and provision for the vulnerable.

Go Deeper

Why did the tensions between Sarah and Hagar increase as Isaac grew older? What does this chapter teach us about the lingering effects of sin?

Pray with Us

It is a reality of a fallen world that the greatest blessings often bring their own unique trials. Father, remind us that these troubles reflect the reality of sin, not Your nature; You are good and holy.

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