[From March 12, 2015]
"For (Hagar) said, 'Do not let me look on the death of (my) 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..."
Life is precious. And precarious. The story of Abraham in the book of Genesis knows this. Sent out on a mission by God at age 75, Abraham had more than his share of challenges. God had promised he & Sarah a son. 11 years later, still no child. So Sarah "gave" her servant Hagar to Abe as a surrogate mother. When Ishmael was born, Sarah suddenly loathed both the boy and his mother. 14 years later, when God finally granted her a child (Isaac), she had Abe cast out Hagar & Ishmael.
Left alone int he wilderness with little supplies, Hagar knew their end was near. She couldn't bear to watch her only don die. So when all had run out, they sat down under separate shade trees to die. The narrator tells us only of Hagar's vocal weeping. But when an angel comes to let her know she's not as alone as she thought, the angel says that "God heard the voice of the boy." I found that quite curious. We didn't even hear the voice of the boy.
Now maybe this can be explained by the male-dominated society in which the Bible was written. Women had very little status, so their voices were rarely heard! But maybe there's something more here?!
Could it be that despite the tears & wailing of Hagar, God is especially attentive to the cries & prayers of the young? Granted, Ishmael was probably 14 at that point (given the time table the narrative sets before us), so he's no "child" as we might think of the term today. Yet he's still his mother's son. At what age does one cease being a child in the eyes of one's parents? Probably never. (note: it's not the same as being or acting childish!)
What would it mean if God had a special place in His heart for our children & youth? God hears everyone's prayers, granted... but what if God's hearing was especially in tune with the cries of the young? Would it change the way we parented? Did church? Thought of our young people throughout the week? Woudl it change the way we looked at abuse among our youngest members of society (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.)?
God hears. God knows. God hurts. God seeks to heal. Will we acknowledge the hurting in our littlest ones? Will we be God's hands & feet to help them?