What if our child doesn’t fit in?
He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” (16:12)
Last week I told the story about how Sarah*, Abraham’s wife, grew impatient and took matters into her own hands. READ HERE At the ten-year mark of waiting for a son, Sarah grew impatient and asked Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar so Hagar could have a son for Abraham.
Well, it happened, Hagar got pregnant.
When she did, she began to treat Sarah with contempt. Sarah did what many would do; she dished the mistreatment back.
Hagar ran away.
As Hagar was weeping bitterly about how she was being treated by Sarah, the angel of the Lord appeared to her with a message.
She was told to go back…and given a promise for her son.
Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count. (16:9-10)
The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” (16:12)
She was promised a wild donkey of a man.
I have been thinking all week about what it would be like to have a “wild donkey of a man” in today’s society who gets along with no one and everyone is against him. If that were my son, I would be worried, praying incessantly, paying for counselors (for him and our family) and feeling like a failure of a parent. I feel certain everyone I know would judge me as being a bad parent, as well.
And absolutely nothing would be going wrong.
Hmmm. I am wondering if the parenting plan to produce the “perfect child” — well behaved, having a career esteemed by society, wealthy, beautiful family, an attractive light for Jesus — can be assumed as God’s will. Here is a man promised more descendants than can be counted and God’s will for him was a life of chronic conflict.
Consider John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness before his first public appearance. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around the waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6) Yet Jesus said, Truly, I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; (Matthew 11:11)
I have been thinking about my kids.
I will always pray protection and blessing upon them, but lately I have been praying more concertedly that God uses each child mightily to advance His Kingdom. In doing so, I am aware that their role in God’s Story may not be what society deems conventional, healthy or successful. I point them to Jesus, raise them with intention, pray like crazy, but God has a story for them that I need to let happen.
May I be brave enough to do so…
and may those around me be brave enough to understand that none of us knows what God is up to with our children.
*Sarai became Sarah before Isaac was born.
**Abram became Abraham before Isaac was born.
Picture Explanation: These are the children I keep close and pray for God to use mightily. How society ends up feeling about them fades in comparison to what God decides is best.
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