A few weeks ago, my wife went to a women’s conference in Indianapolis with a friend. For those of you that don’t know, I have four great kids, but this trip left me to be a “single” parent for those four days. We survived, and everything went well. People in the church helped me as there were a few emergencies that needed my attention, but I want to tell you one thing. If you are a single parent, you have a very tough job. In reality, you are the only income, and you work hours to support your children and then work hours at home. You get little sleep and little time for yourself. I do not know what life events led you to your current situation, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. I want to share with you the story of the Bible’s first “single parent.”
Many know the account of Abraham and his son Isaac, but Abraham had another son, Ishmael. When Abraham’s wife, Sarah, could not have a child, she gave him her servant Hagar. This sounds ridiculous to us today (and it should because it was not the right thing to do). Nonetheless, Hagar gave birth to a son and named him Ishmael. This created resentment in the heart of Sarah, and she treated Hagar horribly.
What’s the point? In Genesis 21, Hagar is forced to leave. Sin has led to sin, and now she finds herself in the wilderness (aka the desert) with no water and no food. What is Hagar going to do? She sets Ishmael down and walks a bit farther so that she does not have to watch her son die. In the depths of this despairing moment, God speaks to her. This wasn’t the first time. In chapter 16, she fled because of her mistreatment by Sarah. During this time, she learned that God sees her pain and is with her. As she awaits the death of her son in chapter 21, God sees her again. She places her faith in God, and he takes care of her and Ishmael.
If you are a single parent, I want you to know that God sees your pain and struggle. He knows what led to this situation and he cares about you. If you will lean into him and place your trust in him, he will give you the strength you need. I wish I could tell you things will get easier, but they might not. However, this I can promise you: if you surrender your situation to him and seek him with all your heart, he will give you the strength you need.