In one of my classes at church, we're studying the life of Sarah. What comes to mind when you think of her? What have you been taught about her all of your life? Most responses are that she is a great woman of faith, and you hear people often say, "I want to be just like her." Well, in a way, most of us are already like her, but it's not necessarily the positive way we've heard or talked about.
Like we function now, and like Sarah often functioned then, we act like humans. And what do humans do? Err. Sin. Some days we sin over and over and over. Will we ever stop? Well, I think you know the answer to that.
Let's look at the life of Sarah a little closer. While she eventually, as mentioned in Hebrews 11:11, became known as a woman of great faith, an obedient wife, and a woman after God's heart (or at least His promises), she didn't always appear that way in Biblical accounts. In fact, Sarah doubted God because of her age. She heard the promise that God made to Abraham, but it wasn't happening in a sensible time frame as far as she was concerned, so she doubted that it would happen, at least through her. She knew the seed of promise was to come through she and Abraham, but she remained barren for so long. Sarah, I think really wanting to obey God and wanting to see the promised fulfilled, took matters into her own hands. She was going to "make" something happen, even if it didn't happen the way God said it would. Do we do that? Are we impatient with God? Do we believe and stand on His promises, no matter how long it seems to take for them to be fulfilled?
Sarah insists that Hagar, her maiden, be given over to her husband so that a child, that she probably thought that she could raise as her own, could be born and the promise fulfilled. Sarah wanted to get on with it. She also didn't want to be the shame in her culture by not producing a child. There were probably many reasons why Sarah took matters into her own hands. She wanted to obey, but was tired of waiting, she was getting older, she would have been put to shame in her culture, she wanted to help God out, she wanted to please her husband, I'm sure. Can we sympathize? But did her reasons make her sin right? Have we had any of the same reasons or excuses for sinning? Even bigger, have we ever felt that God needed our help? If we didn't consciously feel that way, we sure act like He does sometimes.
Sarah and Abraham also were found to be, well...liars. Hmmm, is this still a human problem today? Abraham convinced Sarah to lie about not being his wife to the Egyptians and again to Abimelech. We can see that she wanted to submit to and obey her husband by going ahead with the lies, but that still didn't excuse the lie. Besides, they may have been able to plead innocent with the first lie, although they suffered consequences for that (God eventually saved them out of trouble), but they had no excuse for lieing about the same thing again, and Scripture proves, again. And of course, they had to suffer the consequences...again. There is even an instance in Genesis 18:11-12 where Sarah not only doubted God, but she lied (to God, of all people!) and said that she didn't laugh when our omniscient God knows that she did. Have you ever consciously or unconsciously called God a liar? Do we ever learn? The great thing is that regardless of Sarah and Abraham's sins (over and over), He still intended to and did fulfill His promises, using them. He was still merciful toward them when they got themselves in trouble. Can you recall God being merciful to you after you've taken matters into your own hands, or after you've sinned over and over?
Eventually, God's promise was fulfilled in Sarah and Abraham's life. God sent 3 messengers to tell Abraham that Sarah would be with child in a year's time (the appointed time). Though Sarah doubted this initially, obviously from studying Genesis and reading Hebrews 11:11, she had no choice but to believe what she had already been told and overheard. She was strengthened in old age to have a baby. You can no longer doubt God if you lay with your husband at, what was it 89 and 99, where apparently you weren't even having sex anymore-let alone a baby, conceive, be strengthened enough to carry a baby 9 months, and then deliver a healthy baby boy. That would make a believer out of me too. I'm sure her "faith issue" changed before conception. Her faith issue probably changed when she even had the notion (or Abraham did) or the desire to have sexual relations with her husband. I'm sure in a few weeks when conception was apparent that just really sealed the faith deal. Sarah became a great woman of faith through her trials. Can you see Sarah in yourself? Unfortunately, I know that I can, especially her errors. But I want to see myself in Sarah as the woman of faith; the woman that, despite her constant and apparent need for God and her need for believing Him at His every Word, learns from her mistakes and draws just that much nearer to Him; a woman that will go down in history, like Sarah, as being "real," but loving God and allowing Him to use her trials, unbeliefs, and struggles as ways that she was strengthened, and tried to help others.
What about you?
I hope you have a wonderful rest of the Lord's day!