His name is Jadon Ezra Flamm.
But he doesn’t totally understand that yet.
He still lives in Ethiopia, halfway across the world. And his mom and dad have been patiently waiting to bring him home. To their home. To his forever family.
He knows his old name…and will learn his new one. But the sweetest part of it is that both have the same meaning.
“God has heard.”
A name given by his mother in Africa. A name given by his parents in America. A name given by God.
I’ve shared with you about my friends, Drew and Stephanie, before. How much I learned from watching them wait. How exciting it was to see God answering their prayers. But there was a piece of their beautiful story that I haven’t been able to share with you yet. Not until this sweet little boy was their’s -and despite the fact that he’s not “home” yet, I’m thrilled to announce that he is!
A few months ago, after years of waiting, Drew and Stephanie were finally given their adoption referral. A picture and a name. Their son.
“His name is Ismael, which derives from Ishmael. Meg, it means, ‘God has heard.'”
I felt my jaw drop and my heart start racing during that phone call.
After prayers cried out during the pain and confusion of infertility.
After days, months, and years of asking God for wisdom.
After begging God to finally make them parents.
After interceding on behalf of a little boy on the other side of the globe.
How sweet of our faithful God to gently remind them of His promises in the very name of their son!
God has heard.
Genesis 16 reveals the story of a young woman named Hagar. Hagar was Sarah’s servant, who was asked by her master to sleep with Abraham in order to give Sarah a son. Then to make a bad situation even worse, Sarah “dealt harshly” with Hagar so she ran away. Confused. Lonely. Wandering.
The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness… (Genesis 16:7)
The angel of the Lord. A theophany. An manifestation of God Himself. A preincarnate appearance of the second person of the trinity.
It was during Hagar’s time in the wilderness that she sees God face to face.
And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.” (Genesis 16:11)
Because the Lord has listened to your affliction. Your pain and distress. Your suffering and your misery.
God has heard it. Even when it felt like He didn’t.
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:13)
El Roi, the God Who sees. Even when it felt like He couldn’t.
A God who not only hears her, but also sees her. His ears were not shut to her cries. His eyes were not closed to her circumstances. Perhaps God used Hagar’s affliction to take her to a place where she could really meet Him, as well as open up her hands to what He wanted to give her.
From that point on, the spring Hagar was found by in the wilderness was called Beer-lahai-roi, “a well of the Living One Who sees me”.
Hmm. Living Water. Sound familiar?
In Genesis 21, Ishmael is grown and Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s promised son, is born. And now Sarah wants rid of Hagar again…
So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water, 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 of 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.” (Genesis 21:14-17)
In the wilderness again. Wandering. Thirsty. Discouraged and helpless. Her son is dying and she can’t bear to watch.
And once again, God hears. But I think it’s interesting that this time it says that God heard the voice of the boy and heard him where he was.
It’s been incredible to think that not only has God heard Stephanie’s voice in Xenia, OH and now in Winona Lake, IN…but He’s also been hearing a sweet little boy’s voice in a poor, remote region in Ethiopia, Africa.
While studying this passage, I was also struck with thought that God also not only heard Jadon’s mother in America, but also heard his mother on the other side of the world. A mother that had already seen her husband and other children die in their poverty…and chose to give up her son so that he might have a chance to live. So that she might “not look on the death of the child.”
And God heard.
“Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand…” (Genesis 21:18)
The Hebrew word used here for lift, means “to pick up and move to different position or to carry.”
Pick him up. Move him. Carry him to where he needs to go.
Hold him fast literally means, “support, grow firm, strengthen, keep a hold of.”
Take hold of him and don’t let go. Nourish and promote his growth. Strengthen him in his weakness.
I was floored when I saw that in other places, this same Hebrew word, chazaq, is translated as “adopted”!
Pick him up, strengthen him, and adopt him.
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water… (Genesis 21:19)
This time it was Hagar’s eyes that are not restricted. We’re not told that the well suddenly appeared. We’re simply told that her eyes were now opened to it.
In John 4 another woman’s eyes are opened as she comes face to face with God at a well. Jesus offers her water – living water – to satisfy her thirst.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again…” (John 4:10, 14)
Longing, thirsty hearts that can only be satisfied by knowing Jesus. And often it is in the wilderness, in our affliction, in our suffering, in our helplessness, and in our repentance, where we can really see and know the only One who can quench our thirst. And finally believe that nothing else will satisfy.
…And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (Genesis 21:19)
As it was with Hagar, Stephanie’s time in this wilderness has certainly given her a greater thirst for Jesus. The Living Water – the only source of true joy and satisfaction, in the desert or in the harvest.
And because she has been filled up with Him, she can now pour it out for Jadon. Showing him and giving him Living Water from the God that hears them both.
And God was with the boy, and he grew up… (Genesis 21:20)
With Jadon in Ethiopia. With him when he finally boards that plane to cross the ocean. And with him as he makes his home in Indiana.
And we’re praying that he is rooted and grows up in the story God is writing for him. The story of a husband and wife who prayed and believed and persisted. The story of a God that was not deaf or blind or unloving. The story of trusting this God in the wilderness. The story of God that hears and sees and lavishes goodness – HIS goodness – on His children. The story of a little boy that was inexplicably worth the wait.
And we’re asking God to hear our prayer that the story of Jadon Ezra Flamm’s life would be one of a boy that grows to follow hard after Jesus.
A few photos from Stephanie’s recent shower in Ohio while waiting for their 2nd trip to Ethiopia…