The First Reading and the Responsorial Psalm tie in really well together today. In the First Reading, we hear the story of Hagar and her son Ishmael, the son of Abraham. In this story, Abraham sends the two away with just some water and bread. They wander in the wilderness and soon have eaten the bread and drunk the water. Despair sets in.
Hopeless and fearing that her son will die, Hagar sits down and cries. But then an angel of God speaks to her, telling her that God has heard the boy’s cries and that He will protect him. She opens her eyes to find a well of water.
Then, in the Responsorial Psalm, we hear that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor.”
These words and this story should buoy us, for they are meant to give courage and hope.
Yet, life is often difficult or full of loss. That loss may be of a friend or family member, of a child, of a spouse, or of an ability. We cry and wonder why these things happen. We pray. We beg God to help us. Sometimes we may even think that He isn’t listening. Or if He’s listening, He doesn’t care. And just like Hagar, we can easily fall into despair.
But destructive thoughts like these are surely the work of the devil, for he wants us to wallow, to curse God, and to feel angry. That’s how he wins us over. He fills us with such resentment and such misery that we push God away. We begin to doubt His love. And the devil smiles.
However, these verses from the Bible—indeed, the whole Bible itself—prove God’s love and compassion for us. He wants us to know that He hears our prayers and our cries. He wants us to know that He’s always listening and paying attention. And He wants us to understand that we matter to Him.
God knows our whole story—our beginning, our middle, and our end. We are not privy to the end. So we must learn to have faith and to follow Him even when we don’t understand, trusting that He surely walks with us during our times of despair. It is during these times that we need God the most. It is during these times that we cannot give up. And it is during these times that we must pray unceasingly.
God gave Hagar and Ishmael a literal well of water to quench their thirst and to save their lives. He gave us His Son. And it is from that well that we must learn to drink, for it is that well that will save us.
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.
Feature Image Credit: Fray Foto, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/11861-siguiendo-pasos-maestro