Sarah ~ Advanced Steps In Faith
In chapter 3 of the The Remarkable Women of the Bible and Their Message For Your Life Today, we see Sarah’s faith increasing. When we first are introduced to Sarah in God’s word, we only have eight words to describe who she was and that is “But Sarah was barren; she had no child.” (Genesis 11:30) She was 65 years old when the promises were given to Abraham and Sarai, her name before being changed to Sarah. She was Abraham’s only wife. I would like to add here that many of the patriarchs had more than one wife. To be Abraham’s only wife at that age suggests to me that Abraham and Sarah had a special relationship, and even though she was barren, he was content with the love that she shared with him. Abraham had been given the promises of God now, and subsequently God repeated the promises throughout until God opened her womb. This was taxing on Sarah, as it would be on anyone who was infertile and desired desperately to have children for her husband whom she loved dearly.
Being barren in Sarah’s day had a huge stigma, that of not giving to your husband a son to pass on the family inheritance.
Just think how you would have felt if you were her, being reminded month after month that God had closed your womb.
“Perhaps Sarah wondered, ‘What has gone wrong? What have I done? Why hasn’t God blessed me with children?’ On and on Sarah’s questioning may have gone…and on and on went her pain. Nothing could relieve it, soothe it, or take it away. It was a stigma in Sarah’s day, and by all indications in the Bible, it was a stigma that seared itself more deeply into Sarah’s soul with each childless sunrise.”
Dear Reader, you and I have the advantage of reading ahead in the Bible to find out how Sarah handled an ongoing problem. pg 33, 34
Then God revealed to Abraham the promises that he was to be the father of many peoples that were too innumerable to be counted, as many as the sands on the sea. How excited Sarah must have been at first! Even though she was barren and was Abraham’s only wife, she was to have children now! She had faith at 65 years old, at 66, at 67, at 68, at 69 all the way until she was 75 years old. I ask you, did Sarah have faith? Did she lapse in faith when she determined God had restrained her from having children? It’s up to us to decide, but I truly believe that she had convinced herself because of God’s silence and her unfruitfulness, that an heir may come a different way. Did she become impatient? Perhaps, but it may have come from not a conniving heart but one that truly wanted to see her husband succeed.
What can we learn from Sarah as she was waiting for those ten long years? How can we have confidence in God in our own tests of faith:
“Which area of your life, dear woman of faith, calls for you to continue to believe and to choose to exercise your faith today? Is it a physical problem like Sarah’s was? A family problem like Sarah’s was? A personal struggle? A financial test? Does there seem to be no rhyme or reason to the circumstances, no end in sight, no solution to the predicament? Don’t give in. Choose to wield your faith one more time! Stretch it! Strain it! Grow it! Trust in God, because “there has not failed one word of all his good promise.'” (I Kings 8:56) pg 36
We also want to be sure that our plans coincide with God’s word. We may think we have the solution. We can get things done quicker our way we think, and its okay. There’s nothing evil about it. It will work, won’t it? Sometimes we can convince ourselves that as a Christian woman we can take matters into our own hands. We do not see Sarah, beseeching God for a solution. She may have believed the promises, yes, but she took matters into her own hands to fulfill.
Here is the conversation that Sarai had with Abraham after ten long years of waiting:
“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”
~ Genesis 16:2
Many will point to Sarah’s giving of her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to her husband to wife as Sarah’s faithlessness. My dear ones, that was ten years after the promise was given to Abraham. She is now 75 years old and has no child. In the promise of God to Abraham, Sarah is not mentioned as the one who would bear Abraham a son. At that time it was not stipulated that she would be the one, and all the circumstances pointed to her continued barrenness. Yes, she took matters into her own hands, and the results are still felt today with conflicts in the Middle East; but for now, I would like you to consider the woman Sarai. If any of you suffer with infertility, you know the pain that one goes through each month, but in Sarah’s case it was each year for ten long agonizing years after the promise.
Again, I see Sarah as one who was faithful for ten years and then her human reasoning came into play. She was 75 years old when she suggested to Abraham to take Hagar her handmaiden to wife to bear a son for him, which was a common custom in the ancient East, and she thought perhaps God had other plans for Abraham, to continue his line of descendants. It was a common practice for those who were barren to give their husband to their servant, handmaiden to bear a child for them when they were unable to conceive. I must mention here that polygamy was never what God intended from the beginning, and it seems that every instance of Biblical polygamy has turned out to be problematic at best.
We have to remember Sarah truly “believed” the promises of God. She did not know, however, how God was going to perform it, since it seemingly was not to be from her body. She gave up her one-on-one relationship with her husband of 75 years to give Abraham an opportunity to have a son, so that the promises of God would be fulfilled. If she had not believed the promises, she would have not given up her precious Abraham for someone else to share his love, so that, in her mind, the promises would be fulfilled. I have been married 36 years to a faithful husband. I can’t even imagine giving my husband to a second wife for him to have children and children’s children.
Was it Sarah’s sacrifice for her husband’s success that was in her heart? We cannot know for certain. We can look back and see that it was not in God’s plan. Sarai didn’t know for certain it would be her. “This may be why God has closed my womb,” she could have thought. “It may be that another will bear him a son” since the promise was that a son be born through his own body. God said nothing of Sarai particularly being the one — at least not yet. The Proverbs 31 woman’s heart is that her husband be known in the gates. Abraham was known as a “prince” among his tribe and the neighboring tribes. Could she have truly believed God had closed her womb and that perhaps it was going to come by other means, seeing she was not specifically mentioned as the one who should bare Abraham a son?
“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”
~ Genesis 16:1-3
Another note to mention hear is that Abraham listens to Sarah’s request. Sarai doesn’t demand it of Abraham, she asks him, and he seemingly quickly responded with a positive affirmation. Is it a lack of faith on Abraham’s part? If Sarah had a lack of faith, then Abraham would be guilty also. Abraham is known as the father of the faithful, even though he agreed with the plan. We all make mistakes, dear ones, but God is merciful and patient.
Ishmael was approximately 14 years of age when the messengers of God came to restate the promises to Abraham, but this time it was different. The angel specifically mentions Sarai as being the mother of Abraham’s descendant and, in fact, it was at that time that her name was changed from Sarai to Sarah. It was now 24 years after the promise was originally made to Abraham and Sarah! We all know the story. Sarah was in the back of the tent when she heard the angel speak of her being the one! She laughed within herself:
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
~ Genesis 18:12
Again, we can quickly point out that, “No, how can the Bible say that she had strength to conceive because she found God faithful when she laughed?” But did you know that Abraham laughed as well?
“Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred
years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?”
~ Genesis 17:17
If Sarah judged God faithful, then God’s word is true. The two of them may have been laughing for joy. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing. The angel heard Sarah, and spoke to Abraham and said to Abraham:
“And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?”
“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
~ Genesis 13-14
“Could this be true? I can’t believe it!” She said, “Shall I find pleasure (joy)?”
Is anything too hard for God?
This could be a statement of sheer joy and amazement. Could it be possible that she would finally experience the joy of having a child? Yes, her son was named Isaac, his name meaning in Hebrew “laughter.” Abraham called Isaac this because of what Sarah had done when she heard the direct promise of her bearing a son at 90 years old!
“And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.”
“And Sarah said, “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.”
Genesis 21:3, 6
Does that mean that when people see Isaac born to a 90-year-old woman that she would appear faithless? I doubt that. I think it could be that they will laugh with joy at the possibility that God can do something that we cannot do ourselves, the impossible! The Hebrew word in Genesis 21:6 can also have the definition of “laughing with merriment.”
The last quote I’d like to share is from the book page 39, “Is anything too hard for God?”
“Is this day of your life too hard for the Lord?
Is the physical difficulty you are bearing too hard for the Lord?
Is the heartache you suffer too hard for the Lord?
Is the problem in your marriage too hard for the Lord?
Is your financial condition too hard for the Lord?
Is the path you are on too hard for the Lord?”
Here is what the author gives us for Sarah’s message for our life today:
“Sarah had learned to follow her husband. Sarah completed faith 101 when she learned to trust and follow her Abraham as he followed after God. (Genesis 12:1) True, her life was radical moves and difficult change, but she accepted her lifestyle as God’s will and her husband as God’s instrument in her life.”
“Sarah had learned to trust the Lord – Sarah almost failed the course, but by God’s grace her faith held up to the finger-nail scraping edge while she huddled alone with her fears — and faith — in Pharaoh’s harem. As she walked out of her hostage situation, amazing at God’s miraculous solution (Genesis 12:15-30), Sarah’s score on this exam of faith soared.”
“Sarah had learned the importance of having a gentle and quiet spirit — Yes, her name Sarah carried the connotation of “contention,” as well as the meaning of “princess.” (and she had certainly been contentious with her maid Hagar, another story in itself — see Genesis 16). What a painful time of learning! How thankful she was to now be adorning herself regularly with the gentle and quiet spirit that pleases God.” (I Peter 3:4-5)” pg 40-41