The Tenacious Single Mother

So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.


When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.


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. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”


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. And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.  Genesis 21:14-21



Motherhood plays a significant role in everyone’s life. No one can deny that motherhood is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. However, let’s not forget the difficulties and challenges that modern-day mothers and parents face.


Social media has become omnipresent in a fast-paced world with rapidly advancing technology. Mothers are now facing unique challenges. Often they must balance work, household responsibilities, and caring for their children, while also trying to maintain their children’s mental, emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.


The pressure to be the perfect mom has now become even more overwhelming. Social media is filled with mothers who appear to have it all together: perfect hair, perfect children, immaculate homes, and successful careers.


As a result, many mothers feel inadequate, as if they're falling short of societal expectations. But motherhood is not a competition! We can lean on others for support and, in doing so, learn from them how to successfully negotiate the reality of life as we help and celebrate each other over the joys and beauty of motherhood.


Let’s take a moment to empathize with mothers who have to juggle multiple responsibilities and recognize the challenges they face as they deal with life's complexities and still reflect a heart of love, compassion, and support.


The reality is some complexities come with modern-day motherhood. The greatest challenge is having to do it all as a single mother. Many have to deal with the pressures of life and shoulder those responsibilities independently, having to parent often without a partner.


Did you know there is a growing number of women raising children as single mothers? Our hats go off to them. We celebrate them for demonstrating what it means to be resilient and to shoulder the responsibilities even through the tears and fatigue.


We celebrate single mothers who have tenaciously dealt with the tasks and responsibilities of motherhood, holding two to three jobs at the same time, taking kids to ball games, driving in carpools, maintaining a house, and juggling countless other things at the same time, wearing multiple hats.


We ought to give God praise for these strong single mothers. Why? Because based on the stats, over 50% of our audience today comes from households of single mothers. Single mothers make up the majority of all other single families in the United States.


Although the odds are constantly stacked against them, many have defied those odds and demonstrated what it means to be resilient, and so we pause on this day to honor them.


As we consider the Bible, we deal with various women: the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, Naomi, Hannah, the Shulamic woman, Ruth, and even the Virgin Mary.


Today, I want to highlight sister Hagar. She represents a tenacious single mother, overcoming the burdens of life.


The Plight of Single Mothers


Genesis 21:14-16 outlines Hagar’s plight. Her provisions given by Abraham were depleted. She had nothing left to keep her son and herself alive.


The Hurt

Hagar’s fate was not her fault. She was a victim of Abraham’s mistake of trying to be God—being impatient and taking fate into his own hands, resulting in Hagar giving birth to Ishmael.


Hagar is on her own. Hagar is hurting. There’s no one to help her or take care of her. The Bible says she wanders in the wilderness without direction or purpose. Is that not the plight of some single mothers? I know someone out here also knows what it feels like to walk in her sandals. 


The Hunger

The water in the wineskin is used up. So Hagar places her boy under one of the shrubs. It’s bad enough to hurt, but now her supplies have also run out. Like many other single mothers, Hagar is hurting without protection and hungry without provision.


The Hopelessness

Hagar sits down, lifts her voice, and weeps. She puts the boy under a tree and goes far away so he can’t see her. Perhaps you haven’t gone under a tree, but you have gone into your bedroom and closed the door, sobbing and weeping?


Hagar understands what it feels like to be hurt, hungry, and hopeless. This is the plight of many single mothers, not all, but let’s look at the common fight of a single mother.


The Fight of Single Mothers


In Genesis 21:17-18, Hagar is hurting and hopeless, but God hears her. Even in her hunger and hopelessness, God hears her cry and calls out to her.


The Expectation

If you’re going to have fight in you, you’ve got to have expectations. You ought to be expecting that God is going to show up.


Genesis 21:17 shares comforting words that give Hagar the thread to hang her hope on. Jesus has a way of showing up when you’re hurting, hungry, or hopeless. He can, and He will show up.


During her pain, hunger, and hopelessness, Hagar couldn’t even get a prayer through. Still, God heard the innocent prayer of her child. Her child becomes her intercessor. God listens to the prayer of Ishmael.



The Encouragement

“Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 21:18


In another translation, the verse begins with "Get up!" Get up! Stop having a pity party. Stop wallowing in misery and saturating in sorry. Get up!


It can be difficult, and you may want to give up in defeat, but get up. God is not done. God has another move to make. He has a destiny and a future waiting for you. God is doing something great in your life.


Every child needs to experience the power of encouragement, to come from a psychologically safe setting where destiny and promise are spoken to them. Let’s lift our kids not just with our hands but with our words. Speak to them about how much you believe in them. When you do this, you speak to them about self-worth, self-identity, and purpose.


Also, in this verse, we see that when God heard, Hagar extends her hands and lifts the child. One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is an open heart and an extended hand. Become intentional about leading and guiding your children.


Psychological safety is not just for the workplace environment. It's for the home, too. Create a culture and an environment where kids feel safe to express themselves.


The Provision

God becomes Hagar’s provider. Abraham sends Hagar out with a wineskin filled with water, but God gives her a well when she is out there hurting, hungry, and hopeless. She came out defeated, but God extraordinarily provides for her. God gives her an oasis in the desert.


The Promise

God promises Hagar, “I’ll be with you.” At some point, we’ve got to let go of those who walked out of our lives. This is not to minimize the pain; rejection hurts. Although Hagar was rejected by Abraham, God told her to get up. Abraham may not have wanted Hagar, but God wanted her and made it clear, “I’m still with you.”


Thank you to those modern-day Hagars holding it down.


Thank you for your resilience and tenacity.


I pray a special prayer for you because many of you are exhausted.


I pray God gives you an oasis in the wilderness.


I pray for God to refresh and restore you anew.

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