Friday, July 12, 2024

Forsaken but Not Alone: Encouragement for the Single Parent


by Sandy Domelle

Reading about the different women of the Bible is always interesting to me. Many times I notice something that I never noticed before as I study the verses that go with the life of a lady in the Bible.

Recently, I was talking with a lady who is raising her children on her own. We talked about the many areas in which she struggled as her relationship with her husband fell apart, and how she carries the burden of raising three children on her own. I listened as she poured her heart out a bit, and I began to think about Hagar.

I went back home and studied Genesis 16:6-21, the story of Hagar’s life, so that I could be a better encouragement to this lady. How sad it is that the single parent home is considered the “norm” in life today. Hagar was just that: she was the first single parent home about which we read in the Bible.

When we read this story, we start with Sarah and realize that she knew God had promised Abraham his own seed. Sarah could not get pregnant, and this began to eat at her. Sarah was just as many women today; she grew impatient waiting on the Lord and His timing, so she took matters into her own hands. Eventually, Sarah offered Hagar, her maid, to her husband so that they could have a child through her. This was not God’s plan for Sarah, and she ultimately brought grief to their family by rushing things to fit her timetable. This grief was not something that affected only Sarah.

As is the case with all sin, it had fingers that reached beyond the person who committed the sin. This affected her whole family for many generations to come.

Hagar became pregnant, and just as any woman who is expecting, she was full of excitement. The Bible tells us that Sarah went to Abraham upset that Hagar had conceived. Abraham told Sarah in Genesis 16:6, …Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee… Sarah allowed her bitterness and her anger to control how she dealt with Hagar. The Bible says Sarah dealt harshly with Hagar, which caused her to flee into the wilderness. God sent an angel to Hagar to comfort her and to send her back to Abraham and Sarah. Hagar obeyed and went back, and we see several chapters later that Sarah again became upset with her when she saw Ishmael mocking Isaac. Sarah was fed up and asked Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham, though very grieved at this request, sent them away to keep Sarah happy. When Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away, the only things he gave them were bread and a bottle of water. Abraham did not send Hagar away with much, and we can imagine that she felt completely deserted as she wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. I consider how discouraged and alone she must have felt. She had her son but very little provision to care for him.

Finally, the food and water were gone. They wandered and had nowhere to go.

The Bible says she cast Ishmael under a shrub and then she sat …a good way off,… (Genesis 21:16) She could not bear to sit there and watch her son die. She was alone and forsaken—she had nothing. God heard the cry of Ishmael and sent an angel to call out to Hagar. Once again, the angel comforted her. God then opened her eyes and she saw a well. God did not forget about her or forsake her; He was there the whole time. When they cried out, He met their needs.

There are four things that can be learned from this story that I would like to point out to the single parent.

  1. God still loves you.

You may feel alone because your spouse left you. You may have lost all of your most prized earthly possessions. You may not feel that anyone cares, but God still cares. He has provided for you a Bible full of promises to claim. When the hard times come you may want to curl up in a ball and forget about life. This is a time when you must plan to spend more time with God and realize that even if you cannot see any direct change in life or feel any certain answer to prayer, God still loves you and promises to care for His children. God is always there loving you through the hurts that you face. Many friends and loved ones will be watching you through your trials to see how you respond. Though you may be hurting, God’s love for you and your dependence on Him can be one of the greatest ways to be a testimony for Him.

  1. God will not forsake you.

When divorce comes, you feel abandoned. Getting up each day and pushing forward may be the hardest thing you do. God is bigger than any problem you are facing. He cares deeply for His children, and He wants the very best for you. God was there for Hagar both of the times when she ended up in the wilderness. The angel called out to her by name. This shows that God knew exactly where she was and that He had not forsaken her. God sent an angel to let her know that He still had plans for her life. It was not the end of her world; there was much more to conquer.

You may have been through the ugliest divorce, but your life is not over. It may feel that way, but God has much more for you. If you give up easily, you will never see what God has in store for you because of your faithfulness to Him. God knows where you are, He hears your cry, He will provide for your needs, and He is always with His children. Hebrews 13:5 says, …I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

  1. God will provide for you.

Philippians 4:19 says, But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. God provided a well for Hagar both times she was in the wilderness; He made sure that she was cared for. Likewise, God will provide for you and will not leave you empty handed. Do you remember the widow at Zarephath? Elijah came to her to be fed. She told him that she only had a handful of meal and a little oil, but God provided and made her meal and oil last until the drought ended. This widow was a single parent as well. You cannot help but enjoy reading these stories and seeing how God provided for these single parents, widows, and ladies in need throughout the Bible.

God wants to hear your needs. I have prayer promises written down that I run to when I feel overwhelmed with a situation and in times when I just have to see the Lord work. I think it is so important to have Scriptures memorized so that in the hard times you can recite them and keep dwelling on them to keep the devil from getting the victory over your spirit. Many love Jeremiah 33:3. It says, Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. However, these are two verses that always come to my mind: ….thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. (Isaiah 30:19), And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)

Just reading these verses can provide such comfort. I can quote them to myself throughout the day and know that my God has promised to provide for me. If you feel He is not providing, many times it is because you and God have two different ideas on what your “need” is. God always knows what you need, and He provides exactly what you need when you need it. “God’s answers are rarely early, never late, but always on time!”

  1. God provides companionship.

You are never alone, for God is always there. God sent His angel to Hagar, and I cannot help but wonder a bit about this. A Christian may have faith that there is a God and that He is real, but sometimes he just needs to see, touch, or feel the presence of the Lord. I think that the angel being there met that need for Hagar. There was no doubt that God knew where she was and that she needed to know that she was not alone. God could talk to her, but sending an angel gave Hagar the comfort and encouragement she needed.

Though God could talk to you if He wanted to, many times He sends people to you when you are struggling to help to give you companionship. When people try to help you during these times, be sure to accept their help.

There is one last thought I would like to point out concerning the life of Hagar. Divorce is not the end of the world for you or your children. There are many people who went on to do great things after their parents were divorced. Ishmael became the father of a great nation that exists even to this day. Single parents may be tempted to treat their children differently because of the hardships that divorce has caused in their lives. Even though your child has suffered and faced obstacles because of the divorce, you cannot baby him or discipline him differently. You must continue to rear him as you would if you were still married.

If you are reading this and circumstances have left you the single parent, do not give up! When those circumstances come, you must pull yourself together, move on, and not let it destroy your life or the lives of your children. God’s promises are there for you to claim. II Corinthians 12:9 says, And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Decide that you will not allow the devil to have the victory in your life. You can raise children who will turn out right and serve the Lord. You are not alone!

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