15. You are a rightful heir

Sarai couldn't wait for God's promises to come to pass and gave her servant, Hagar to Abram to bear his children. Hagar became pregnant and started to treat Sarai with contempt. Sarai blamed Abram for this and Abram in turn told Sarai to do with Hagar what she wanted. Sarai started to treat her harshly and due to this treatment Hagar ran away. And it was in her hopeless situation that God appeared to her, blessed her and told her to return to Sarai and to submit to her authority, which she did. And in due course Ishmael was born.

Abram treated Ishmael as his rightful heir, his son in every aspect. And for 13 years Abram believed that Ishmael was the answer to God's promises. It was only after 13 years that God told Abram otherwise. Now I would like us to stop there and reflect on the life of Ishmael for a moment.

Imagine you were Ishmael. Your mother is the servant of the mistress and your father is the head of the household. You grow up hearing that you are the heir to all your father has. You are the only descendant he has and you are in line to inherit everything. You are treated by your father as a respected son and he loves you. But you do feel the tension in the air between your mother and the mistress, knowing that you were born 'out of wedlock' so to speak. But you could handle that, because for your father, you were everything.

Then one day you hear that your father's wife is pregnant and before long you had a baby brother. Now you hear that he is in fact the rightful heir. All of a sudden you are no more than the 'servant's son'. You are not the rightful son you always thought you were. And out of a jealous rage you decided to poke fun at your little brother. And because you did, you are chased away.

I cannot help but feel sorry for Ishmael. He shouldn't have poked fun at Isaac, but he was rejected. None of it was his own doing. He didn't ask to be born into this situation. He didn't ask to be the result of one woman's impatience. He didn't ask to be born out of sin.

There are many of us that feel like Ishmael did, rejected, the 'black sheep' of the family, born into the 'wrong' family on the 'wrong' side of the tracks, stuck in the middle due to other people's sins etcetera. But do not allow that to shape who you are. You are not the black sheep and you are not defined by your circumstances and where you came from. God went ahead and blessed Ishmael. He turned Ishmael into a great nation, with twelve princes as his descendants. And He will bless you too, no matter where you came from or what situation you might find yourself in. Do not wallow in your circumstances and do not become depressed about it. And above all do not relish in sin, using your background as an excuse to do it. God has a special place for you, just as He had for Ishmael. Rather focus on that and strive to be all you can be in the Kingdom of God, because in His kingdom you are a rightful heir. You are a rightful son with all the privileges of royalty and no one can ever take it away from you. No matter what you have been through, I can promise you that your eternal future is bright and filled with love and acceptance.

Father, thank you so much that we can know that we are rightful heirs. Thank you so much that we can be part of Your royal kingdom. Thank you that we can rejoice and know that we are forever safe with You. Please help us to forgive those that have wronged us, to accept where we came from and to live in the new life that You came to give us. In Jesus' Name. Amen

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