We all make mistakes or bad decisions. Sometimes there is room to recover; sometimes we just need to live with it. Making a careless turn in life might seem harmless at first, in many cases, it might ripple into something that one regret for the rest of his/her life. The string of bad decisions Abraham and Sarah made regarding Hagar and Ishmael, began with the distrust in God's sovereignty over the son whom God promised. It turned into jealousy and conflicts between two women, and eventually domestic violence, and abandonment that could have killed Hagar and Ishmael.

The Bible implies that after Hagar returned from her short-term exile and submitted to her mistress according to God's command, Abram's family enjoyed a rather peaceful period. We can feel that Abram loved Ishmael as his heir from what he said to God in Genesis 17:18. When God changed his name to Abraham and once again restated that He will grant Abraham a son through Sarah (formerly Sarai), he answered: "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" (NIV) Ishmael continued to enjoy a peaceful life even after Isaac was born through Sarah. Genesis 21:9 says "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking." (NIV) NRSV rendered this verse as "But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac." The word translated as "mocking" in NIV or "playing" by NRSV has the meaning of "toying with "or "make a toy of..." Even if Ishmael was really toying with the toddler, it was probably not harmful and intentional. We all have the experience of pinching the chubby faces of a cute toddler or baby. "But" the innocent child play alarmed Issac's mother who has the history of bitter jealousy. This time she wants to throw Hagar and Ishmael out of their family. We can tell from Abraham's hesitation that he didn't want to, but he couldn't stand firm as the head of the family and make the right decision. God allowed Abraham to listen to Sarah and promised to take care of Ismael and Hagar. In fact, as mentioned in the previous devotion, God has already blessed Hagar and Ishmael during her first exile.

We don't know if Abraham ever feels regret for what he did to Hagar and Ishmael. I believe he did because he was mostly a man after God's heart. There were decisions I made and things I did in the past which I feel regretful, and there is no way to correct some of the wrongs. As God's people, we don't need to feel hopeless even when that happens. We know that God will always love us. He will make things right even out of our sins. That doesn't mean we can keep on sinning against God and people. It means that though we need to suffer the consequences of the transgressions in this life, the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us and saved us from eternal death. As long as we repent sincerely, our sins are forgiven, and we can still face God whether now or during the final judgment. Further, God will not abandon the person or party wronged by us. He will take care of their welfares. But let me stress again; we should not intentionally mistreat anyone just because God will make things right.

It is difficult, but see if you can share a thing you did which you feel regretful. Share with your prayer partner whether God has turned the situation around or make it into a blessing. Pray for each other that you will remember the bitter taste of the consequences of sins and will start to make every conscious decision according to God's will.