In Singapore, there were 7,614 divorces and annulments (2016). And that’s just in one year. In ten years, there could be 76,000 divorces. If each family had on average two children, that’s 152,000 children having broken families.
Every divorce is painful, hurting not just the couple but also the children. Even among Christians, I know quite a few marriages that have fallen apart.
Time often does not heal such wounds. Single parents struggle to survive and raise their kids. Kids suffer from depression, rejection and turn to vices in some cases. Many social issues such as drugs and crime stem from broken homes.
If you have suffered from a broken home, God has a special heart for you. A short account in Scripture gives us precious lessons and hope for those hurting.
Hagar and Ismael suffered from a broken family. Abraham divorced Hagar and sent them away. Why? Sarah had baby Isaac and didn’t want Ismael to share in the inheritance. We read:
…Sarah said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
Divorce is painful. Hagar and her son were given a skinful of water and sent off on their way. Wandering in the desert, they ran out of water. Death was looming. Many divorce fallout feels like that too. Single parents struggle to make ends meet in their own wilderness experience. It’s hard to survive and harder for parents to see their own kids suffer.
Hagar anticipates death and sobs a distance away from her son. She can’t bear to see him die of thirst. But God did something. He sees the situation and knows how they are feeling.
1. God heard Ismael crying and took action.
And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.”
God sent an angel to comfort Hagar. God heard their cries for help. Years ago, God had sent an angel too when she was pregnant (Gen 16:13). After that incident, Hagar said, “You are the God who sees me.” God was always seeing her through the years.
God hears the Hagars and Ismaels of the world crying and comes closer. He comforts the 11 year old girl whose father has just abandoned the family for a younger wife. He tells a single mum working two odd jobs “Fear Not” because he has heard her prayers for help.
God sees. God hears. God knows. God acts.
You are not alone.
2. God opened Hagar eyes to see his provision of water.
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
God opened her eyes to see a well full of water. They drank and lived. It might have been right in front of her but she didn’t see it. Often God opens our eyes to see his provision right in front of our eyes.
My prayer is that God opens the eyes of single parents to see his provision for them. God has not left you alone but will find a way to provide for your survive. It might be through the community, the church, or the extended family. I hope that churches will step in to provide more for broken families. Supplying money, giving tuition for the kids or being there for them will make a huge difference. Many kids without fathers need a spiritual father for love, identity and guidance. Find a hurting family whom you can bless with your presence and love.
3. God was with the boy Ismael as he grew.
And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow.
I love this verse. It says “God was with the boy” and “he grew up”. There is a link between God’s presence and the boy growing up. Many kids don’t grow up. They grow up physically but not emotionally. The little hurting kid inside hasn’t grown up. They may feel rejected, unloveable, finding love in all the wrong places. They need God to be with them.
What is God the father like?
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
To those who need a father, God the father is there for you.
To those single parents who need help, God is there to defend you.
Many crave the love of a father. Some on the other hand, imagine God the father to be like their own terrible father. They want nothing to do with God. If that’s the case, neither do I because that is not the God I know. God the father is loving, patient, kind, merciful, compassionate, forgiving. He’s the perfect father no one human could ever be. And that’s the kind of father we need in our lives to grow up well.