December 8, 2021
Thank you for your partnership in prayer each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival.
Prayer is like the labor of childbirth. It’s difficult. It’s uncomfortable. It’s long. But the end result is worth it.
For Sarah, it was more than just childbirth. It was the fact that she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17) and that her womb was long dead and unable to conceive a child (Rom. 4:19). It was that she had faith in God to do what was naturally impossible.
“By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).
Sarah was the first woman named in the Hebrews 11 list of faith. Throughout the New Testament much is said about Abraham, yet here it says, “By faith Sarah herself received power.” It is refreshing to see how God acknowledges and honors the faith of this woman.
Let’s take a closer look at Sarah’s life.
Her beauty was developed inwardly and expressed outwardly, showing how faith works.
Peter, in writing to women said, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands” (1 Pet. 3:4-5). He then goes on to highlight how Sarah was an example of this.
Faith is visible outwardly in treating people with kindness and gentleness. It manifests itself in behavior that is self-controlled and peaceful. Faith enables submission to godly authority. This type of lifestyle doesn’t just happen by chance, it originates from a true heart of faith.
Sarah’s hardship as a bedouin wife caused her faith to grow as her relationship with God deepened.
It is not easy for us to imagine how difficult life must have been for this woman moving from place to place, living in a tent, cooking over an open fire, dealing with the pressures of ancient society that devalued the female gender while expecting women to produce many children for the husband's honor.
Life for Sarah was extremely challenging. She was a beautiful woman, but she had no children. Think of the ridicule, the reproach, and the shame she must have felt. It would have been overwhelming. In this culture, a woman’s identity and character was under question if she could not bear children. Where was God in all of this?
Then, when they journeyed down to Egypt, Abraham told a partial lie to save his own skin, at the cost of Sarah’s future. This was a great lack of faith on his part, but God preserved Sarah through it all (Genesis 12:10-20).
It must have been a huge trial for Sarah to have her husband abandon her in this way. What was Abraham thinking? Husbands are supposed to lay down their lives for their wives, not give them up for their own preservation.
Later in her story, Sarah’s impatience got her into trouble, but it is a good reminder that her faith was growing. So desperate was Sarah to have children that she concocted a plan to give her handmaid to Abraham with the hopes of raising a family through her (Genesis 16). It was not God’s plan and it was not of faith.
Like all of us, Sarah’s faith was in progress. Naturally speaking, it was impossible for her to have children at the age of 90, and she did what came naturally. Instead of believing in God, she doubted. Our lives will never be fully absent of doubt until we reach our home in glory. We need to choose faith in the midst of doubts.
If you read the Old Testament alone you might conclude that she didn’t have much faith, but clearly God sees a lot more than what we see.
Her laughter revealed that joy in difficult times is possible. Back in Genesis, Sarah’s laughter is mentioned a number of times. Incidentally, Isaac’s name means laughter. “And Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.’” (Gen. 21:6).
Finally, her confidence in God was defined by what she received from God and shows that her faith had developed. “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive.” She received power to do what could not humanly be done. She believed that God was going to do what He had promised He would.
Whenever you have God’s Word on a matter, you can have certainty. You may not know how you are going to make it to the other side, but you can be certain that you will make it. You may have some deep unknown waters to pass through in life, but you can be certain of His presence with you. You may not feel loved or cared for, but you can be certain that you are deeply and unconditionally loved by God. You may sense that Satan is winning, but you can be certain that God is still in control.
The promises of God are many, and we, like Sarah, need faith to enjoy the results.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel