Hagar and Ishmael were victims of their culture. An Egyptian slave girl belonging to Sarah, Hagar became the substitute child bearer, when Sarah believed that she was permanently barren. Now that Sarah was a mother herself, jealousy had damaged their already fragile relationship, and Hagar became an outcast. Abraham, caught between the stresses of two women, each with her son (his sons also), chose to accept the nagging of his wife and cast out his mistress. You can read their story in Genesis 16-21.
So Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the wilderness, frightened, hungry, thirsty, alone, abandoned, desperate.
That is when the angel came, with promises of future prosperity and, more important, with present sustenance for the journey. (Genesis 21:19 “Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.”)
Their story is our story, yours and mine. Just when we think that we are doing exactly what we are called to do, fulfilling the roles for which we have been chosen, life takes us into the wilderness, where we wander in desolation and despair. We wonder what happened to our plans. Has God forgotten us? Did we misunderstand God’s leading? Do we have a future? Is this the end?
That is when the angels come. They come to nurture. They come to encourage. They come to comfort, to allay our fears, to remind us that we can not see ahead, but God can. And, where ever we are on our personal safaris, if we will open our eyes, we will see the water of life springing up to nurture us and renew our lives.