The thread that journeys through these scriptures is the reality of our fallibility. Regardless of how big our faith may be, there is always a time or two in which our fears, doubts and plans reveal how human we are! Sarah shines in the scriptures and through the Talmud and midrash stories of a faithful woman who helps to change the world.
Yet we see a moment in which she falls short of her high calling. After sharing her husband with her servant, watching him be dad to Ishmael, she gazes upon that older child and his mother, not with love but with fear, and perhaps jealousy too. As Isaac is weaned and is growing into a young child, he and his half-brother are playing together. Instead of seeing that moment as beautiful, it sends her into a panic. She wants Hagar and Ishmael to leave. Read Genesis 21:8-21.
While Sarah got her way, God wasn’t finished with the story of Hagar and Ishmael. God was still at work in both families. While the hurt and betrayal must have been deep, God not only appears to Hagar but assures her that not all is lost. Instead, this child too will lead a great people. For the promise to Abraham was descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens!
Sadly, this story of the division between these two is too common a story. At times, we can be quite blind to God’s work among us. Would God still have done great things through Ishmael if he stayed? Sure! Isn’t that true for all of us? While we, at times, think God is on our side, isn’t God really on the side of all? If only we could live through that view—that though we think God is only for us, God is actively at work with our ‘enemies’ and the others that we don’t want around us? Thank God, Sarah shows us the fullness of herself and the good news that God still works in spite of her shortcoming!