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As a single mom, you may feel the odds are against you. But with the the help of God, you can raise up the next generation for Christ

I've been a single mother for 15 years. I used to think I was alone in my endeavor to raise my daughter without a husband, but I've learned there are many other women who are trusting God to be a "father to the fatherless" (Ps. 68:5). In fact, the U. S. Census Bureau says that in the year 2000 there were 10 million single moms in America, many of whom were born-again believers.

There are a myriad of reasons why a growing number of women find themselves the head of a one-parent home. Some have endured the pain of divorce, the death of a spouse or a pregnancy outside of wedlock. Others are still married but separated from their mates. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: God's faithfulness to single moms can be seen in Scripture and is evident in the lives of mothers and their children today.

A Biblical Example

Genesis 21:9-14 tells the story of a tumultuous family problem involving Isaac, the son God promised to Abraham in his old age, and Ishmael, his son born to Hagar. Though Abraham's wife, Sarah, was the one who originally suggested that her husband sleep with her maid, she later insisted that the son produced by that union and his mother be "cast out" of their home. As a result, Hagar became the first single mother mentioned in the Bible.

Early in the morning, Hagar left the place she and her son had called home for many years. It was a difficult departure. Nevertheless, she gathered up her belongings, took the boy and headed for the door.

Abraham was devastated by the thought of never seeing his son again, but Sarah insisted that the woman and the boy leave. With God's consent, the two were sent away—for good.

In biblical times, it was customary for a woman who was barren, as Sarah was, to offer her maid as a substitute to conceive children. This practice was important because the birth of a son insured the perpetuation of the family, and it also provided an heir to the inheritance left by the father.

Under normal circumstances, Sarah's actions would have been acceptable. But a desire to 'help' God keep His promises and a lack of trust in Him to perform His word—that Abraham would be the father of many nations and that through his seed all nations would be blessed—caused Sarah and Abraham to take matters into their own hands.

Genesis 21:14 says Abraham placed the strap of the water bottle on Hagar's shoulders. The Greek word for shoulder is shek-em', which means "place of burden." Hagar was left with the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child alone without the provision and protection of a father.

Imagine Hagar (the Hebrew translation of her name means "flight") wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba. The comfort of the morning air was no doubt snuffed out by the sweltering heat.

With no water to drink and no well to draw from, death seemed imminent for the boy and his mother—until God intervened.

"Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation," God said to her (Gen. 21:18). Today, God is still reaching out to single mothers. He's offering to be a never-ending source of love, strength and provision as we face the challenge of raising God-fearing world-changers for Him.

After interviewing several mothers for this article, I discovered that the challenges single moms grapple with are universal. We face the tasks of providing housing, buying a car, pulling double shifts at work, feeding our families and paying for health care, all while trying to lead an emotionally healthy life. Many perform these functions without the help of family or friends.

But I believe single parents who are Christians have an advantage over those who don't know God. Why? Because He hears us! Ishmael's name meant "God hears."

The Father demonstrated His commitment to Abraham when He responded to Ishmael's cries and spoke to Hagar through the angel of the Lord. "And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, 'What ails you, Hagar?'" (Gen. 21:17).

We Are Not Alone

God desires to have a relationship with us. It was never His intention for single moms to go through life alone. Oftentimes, it is during wilderness experiences such as Hagar had that we are able to hear Him clearly.

I can remember my trip to the doctor for what I thought was a follow-up visit for a terrible bout with strep throat. During my examination, I told the nurse I had been experiencing dizziness and feeling somewhat queasy. She asked if I would take a pregnancy test just as a matter of routine. I agreed, but when she returned with the results, I was speechless.

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