The Saga of Single Parenting

The story of Hagar has some real-life lessons for single parents. We first meet Hagar in Genesis 16, where she was the servant of Sarai, who along with her husband Abram (this was just before their names were changed) were unable to have children.

In the custom of their day, barren women in Sarai’s situation would bring in another woman who would bear the husband’s child and thus act as a surrogate. Hagar became a surrogate for Sarai.

When Hagar got pregnant Sarai became jealous and drove Hagar out of the house. Pregnant and alone, with no Abram or any other male to support and protect her, she found herself wandering in the wilderness. Hagar was about to become a single parent because she got caught in someone else’s plan.

But then the Angel of the Lord (Jesus pre-incarnate) went out to the wilderness for the benefit of this single mother-to-be. In other words Jesus showed up. That was good news for Hagar.

If you are a single parent, that’s also good news for you. When you have been rejected, when the father or mother of your child is nowhere to be found, God knows the situation you are in and He knows where to find you. He loves andshows great compassion on you. When you hurt, He feels it. He knows your loneliness, stigma, and pain. After all, He experienced the fullness of allthree on the cross.

When God showed up He told Hagar to name her son Ishmael, which meant “God hears and God knows.”  Every time she would use that name, she would remember something about God. That’s the beauty of the grace of God for a single parent. Hagar is out on her own with no help, but God says, “I know.”

In verse 13 Hagar responded. Giving God the name El Roi, she declared, “Thou art a God who sees.”

Do you know that God sees you? The circumstances you are in? Out there in the desert all alone with no one to provide for, give you spiritual and emotional covering, and protection. He is not unaware of what you are going through. No matter what you are going through, God says, “I see. I hear. I know.”

The saga of Hagar does not end here. In Genesis 21 we see that Hagar, instructed by the Lord, has gone back to Sarah. By now Sarah has had Isaac, the son God had promised her and Abraham (their names had been changed by then also).

One day when Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of Isaac (v. 9) she said, “Not in my house you won’t!”  She had Abraham put them out. Hagar, along with her son, were homeless again and left to wander in the wilderness alone. Now, she was a bona fide single mother.

This is a classic single-parent scenario—one that, with a few changes of detail and geography, could easily be repeated today. Hagar lost her home, she had a teenage son to take care of, and she was on the streets, so to speak, with no money in her pockets. She was thirsty and probably hungry. She feared that her boy would die. In despair she sat down and cried.

When the Son of God showed up again, He asked Hagar, “What is the matter with you?” (v. 17). He was saying, “Hagar, have you forgotten what I did for you earlier? How I found you out in the wilderness when you were pregnant and Sarah had chased you away? Do you think I am going to remember you one minute and forget you the next? You yourself said I am the God who sees. Do you think that now I have gone blind?”

Single parent, God has not gone blind. He sees, He hears, and He knows. You may be in a far from ideal situation, but you have an ideal God.

The greatest thing you can do is have a passion for God, because single mother, when you have a passion for God youhave Someone who will be a Father to your child and a Husband and protector to you. Single father, when you know God you have Someone to lean on who understands a father’s heart and desires for his children.

As He was with Hagar, so is He with you…the God who sees and knows and cares.