Monday, May 26, 2008

"Barren" Women of the Bible Part 2 - Sarai/Sarah

Part 2 of our Barren Women of the Bible series will focus on Sarai whose name was changed to Sarah after God established His covenant with her husband, Abraham, and their descendants. Sarai/Sarah's story is found in Genesis, although chapters 16-21 focus on her infertility. Mentions of Sarah are made throughout the Bible.

Sarai is a well-known woman in the Bible. She is often referred to as the mother of our faith because God's covenant was established with her and Abraham. Sarai was very beautiful. She was so alluring that when the couple travelled, Abraham would tell people she was his sister (technically, she was his half-sister) so that he wouldn't be killed over her. As a result, on separate occasions, two kings took her with the intent of adding her as one of their wives. Of course, those kingdoms were plagued and cursed until they let Miss Sarah head back to her hubby. Notably, all the women in one of those kingdoms could not conceive because Sarai had been taken by that king (Read about King Abimelech in Gen. 20).

Now it is important to note that the first prayer that went up regarding this couple's childlessness comes from Abraham (Gen. 15:2-6), not Sarah. Men - our husbands - have the power to get a prayer through that will bless us and future generations. We also know Abraham was a godly man willing to do the will of God, so that likely worked in his favor. Back to Sarah ...

The Bible says, the Lord closed Sarah's womb. We really do not know why God did this, but there was no reason to think it was a punishment. I imagine there were many years of suffering, grief, and frustration, which is why PERHAPS Sarah took matters into her own hands even after God promised Abraham a son.

Sarah asked Abraham to take her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, as a wife, so that she could bear a son for the couple. He agreed. After Hagar had a son, angels of the Lord came to Abraham's tent. They appeared to be just strangers passing by, but Abraham (not knowing they were angels) showed great hospitality. He begged them to stay and rest before continuing their journey, he killed the fattest calf he could find and asked Sarai to bake her special bread.

Soon enough, the angels/strangers prophesied that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. Sarah did an internal laugh of disbelief (she was inside the tent listening to their conversation). She probably thought, "yeah right. I'm in my 90's and I can't imagine having relations with my husband let alone carrying a baby to term!" Sarah quickly believed the prophesy when the Lord revealed her secret doubts to Abraham.

Okay, so Abraham gets the biggest news of his life ... he will have an heir ... his fortune won't go to his top servant after all! As a matter of fact, he'll have more offspring than he could ever even count! I'm sure Abe was excited, but he wasn't so into himself that he didn't stop to intercede for those living in a neighboring city that the angels/strangers were sent to destroy!

Interesting things about Abe and Sarah:

God didn't require Sarah nor Abraham to be perfect before they received His blessing. They still doubted, lied, and did some pretty dastardly things. Sarah had even kicked Hagar and Ishmael out of the family home once she became a mom. Let's not judge, but rather learn from this couple's lives.

So, although they behaved like humans (don't we all?) they were hospitable, loved the Lord and were obedient to God (Read about Abraham's ultimate test in Gen. 22). Further, God knew Abraham would raise his family to love and obey the Lord as well! (see verse below)

They were hospitable. Abraham's prayers got results. Abraham interceded for others. He had selfless qualities.

Key verses:

The following scriptures stood out for me, I've included my reasons why below.

When I felt discouraged about what the doctors were saying about me carrying a child to term, I thought of what God said of himself ... if he did it for her, why not, me?

"Is anything 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. (Gen. 18:14)

I understand that being committed to raising godly children works in our favor!

The Lord spoke to Abraham saying, "For I know [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; and the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." (Gen. 18:19)

This passage fills me with such hope ... I can almost hear myself bubbling over with such joy as I celebrate the blessings God will give.

After Sarah had her son, Isaac, she said, "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." (Gen. 21:6)

Think about this:

  • Do you see what Abraham and Sarah had in common with the Shunammite woman we discussed in Part One?
  • Based on your reading of Sarah/Abraham's story, list reasons why you believe perfect faith is a requirement to receive the desires of your heart?
  • What are some things Sarah did that one would be wise not to imitate?
  • Why is your situation not as fixable as Sarah's? Do you believe that some things are just too hard for God?
  • What does the phrase "let go and let God" mean to you? How can you apply that to your situation?
  • Despite what you may have heard others say, do you believe that God can close a person's womb? Can it sometimes be for a reason unknown to man? Do you believe that which He has closed, He can open?

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