Have you ever noticed that the heroines of some of our favorite books often have glaring faults? Though they are endearing and good at heart, they might be stubborn, have a short temper, or act impulsively.
Think of Laura in Little House on the Prairie, Anne in Anne of Green Gables, or Jo in Little Women. None of them are what we’d consider “perfect,” yet we enjoy reading their stories. Maybe, in one way or another, we see a little bit of ourselves in their imperfections.
We can all identify with flawed characters. God included flawed women in the Bible, and Sarah was one of them.
When we study Sarah’s life, we don’t have to look far to find a shortcoming – one that many of us probably share. Reading the account of Sarah’s life in Genesis, we see her struggling with her faith. Can you relate? I can! Yet Sarah is listed with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.
So in spite of how she failed – and how I’ve failed in my faith, too – I can learn a few lessons from her.
1. It’s easy to doubt God when I focus on the circumstances instead of on His promises. In Genesis 18:9-15, we read how Sarah laughed when, standing just inside the tent door, she heard the Lord say that she would have a baby. Her immediate thought (and a very logical one) was that the promise she’d just heard couldn’t be fulfilled because of her age. Sarah’s first reaction wasn’t faith, but doubt. Yet God’s response was to remind her that with Him, nothing is impossible. We know that God is able to keep any promise that He makes, no matter how the situation looks to us.
2. Trying to work out God’s plan in my own way never ends well. Here’s where Sarah reminds me of myself at times. She knew that God’s plan was to give Abraham a child. Sarah, though, got tired of waiting for God’s plan to develop, and in Genesis 16:1-6, she took matters into her own hands. She figured out a way for Abraham to have a son. Sarah thought she knew best. But we know how this story ends, with Isaac’s and Ishmael’s descendants still at odds today. Surely there’s a reason there are so many verses in the Bible about waiting on God! When I’m tempted to step ahead of His plan, may I remember what happened with Sarah.
3. It’s the character of the God in Whom I put my faith that’s key. Hebrews 11:11 says,
“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.“
Sarah counted Him faithful. She took God at His Word. Faith is not about my working up trust in God inside of myself. It’s about the never-failing God in whom I put my trust, and His Holy Spirit giving me the ability to believe what God says in His Word.
4. Faith won’t always make sense to me. Actually, it wouldn’t be faith if I could make sense of it all, would it? I doubt that all those years of waiting made sense to Sarah. Surely she wondered why a son for Abraham couldn’t have come earlier in their lives. Yet God gave her “strength to receive seed” late in life, after the point where it even seemed possible. We may never understand what God is doing – especially when we don’t see any evidence of His working at all – but He is always in control.
5. Faith leads to God’s blessing. In the end, Sarah gave Abraham a son, in God’s time.
“And Sarah said, ‘God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.’ And she said, ‘Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.'” ~Genesis 21:6-7
What pleasure Sarah must have had in mothering Isaac! Yet the blessings continued well beyond her lifetime. Through the line of Abraham and Sarah’s son, we have all been blessed. The seed that God promised Adam in the Garden of Eden, His Son Jesus, came to earth to win our salvation.
I’m thankful that I have Sarah’s example to encourage me in my own faith. Though doubt will win at times, may I, too, grow in my faith as I judge my God faithful!
Earlier posts in this series: