Have you ever wondered amidst seemingly unanswered prayers if God really cares about you? After all, how many billions of people are in this world again? Does one situation in one life really make a difference to the God of the Universe? I hope I’m not the only one that’s ever had that question. That said, I believe that the story of Sarah shows us that we are important to God, even despite our imperfections.
I read about Sarah once again a couple weeks ago for a Bible study, and this time round a few new things stuck out to me. In order, they are:
- God displays His abundant love for Sarah (and not just her husband Abraham);
- Sarah was less than perfect in her actions and God still chose her;
- God doesn’t need our help in His plans;
- And we may consider a prayer “unanswered” when God is working in the background with His perfect timing.
To really fully appreciate this commentary, I would go back and read about Sarah in Genesis 11-23. The Holy Spirit is faithful to reveal things to us through God’s Word!
God displays His love for Sarah (an individual person, and even a woman!).
Twice at her husband Abraham’s request she lies and says she is only his sister so another powerful man takes her to be his wife. The first time was in Egypt (Genesis 11:10-20), and Pharaoh took Sarah into his palace because she was beautiful. Can you imagine being married and then being taken by another man?
The Bible study I read noted that Sarah probably put herself in great danger by obeying her husband and lying to the officials in the land. That said, Genesis 11:17 tells us “But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.” So, Pharaoh let Sarah and Abraham go, along with all they had. I’ve wondered if it wasn’t God’s grace that Sarah couldn’t bear children at this point, because the Bible doesn’t say that Pharaoh didn’t touch her. God acted on her behalf, though, and shows how much He cared for her by inflicting serious diseases on the household she was in until she was released.
The second time Abraham and Sarah lied about their relationship, it was to Abimilek king of Gerar in Genesis 20. He, too, took the very beautiful Sarah to be his wife, but God kept him from touching her (Genesis 20:6) and told him in a dream to return Sarah or he and all who belonged to him would die (Genesis 20:7). The Lord had also kept everyone in Abimilek’s house from conceiving because of Sarah (Genesis 20:18) but healed them when Sarah was returned and Abraham prayed for them.
Even though Sarah and Abraham had been less than truthful about their relationship status, God still shows how much He cares about her and what happens to her.
Sarah was less than perfect, but God still chose to use her.
We just saw that Sarah had lied. In addition, she also mistreated her servant Hagar and was unkind to her. Finally, she even laughed at God and His plan! We see in Genesis 18 that the angel of God told Abraham that “at this time next year, your wife Sarah will have a son.” By this point, Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 89, and Genesis 18:12 tells us, “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?'” Then the Lord said to Abraham in verse 13-14a, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord?” But, Sarah was afraid so she lied and said she didn’t laugh but God replied “YES, YOU DID laugh!”
I’m wondering if she laughed out loud or if she laughed to herself – isn’t it great that God knows us…I mean He REALLY knows us. He knew that Sarah thought His plan was impossible. He knew that she was old and afraid, and He knew that she had laughed and lied about it. But, He chose her anyway.
Despite her imperfections, God still chose her to bear Isaac, the child of promise. Through him and his offspring, the nation Israel (God’s chosen people) would be born. And on down the road, Jesus would come from this nation. Sarah was a chosen part of God’s grand plan, even though she made many mistakes in her life.
Isn’t that reassuring and refreshing? After all, none of us can claim to be perfect, but don’t we still desire to be chosen by God to be used for His glory?
God doesn’t need our help for His plans.
So many times, we want to make the plans of how our lives should work out and let God give the stamp of approval on them. But, God doesn’t work that way; His plan and His timing is perfect.
Sarah didn’t have any children, even though she knew God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and the entire earth would be blessed through his seed. So, she crafted her own plan and suggested to her husband that he sleep with her slave Hagar so that perhaps she could have a family through her (Genesis 16:2).
Now, I personally can’t imagine sharing my husband with anyone. How desperate Sarah must have been to have children! But her plan didn’t work out well. When Hagar got pregnant, she began to “despise” her mistress (Genesis 16:4) so Sarah mistreated her and she fled. Eventually, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, but he was the child of a slave and not the child of promise. From my understanding, from Ishmael we have the Islamic people and Muslim faith. Sarah’s poor choice to take matters into her own hands would have far-reaching consequences! God didn’t need Sarah’s help; after all, 14 years later she would give birth to the son God had promised Abraham.
Are there times that we want to quit waiting on God’s timing or plan and do things our own way? Do we think that we know better than God and wish He would see things from our perspective? How often to we limit God by trying to work out plans for ourselves? God’s plan is the best, even when we have to wait for it!
When we feel prayers aren’t being answered, perhaps God is still working in the background in His perfect timing.
Sarah really, really wanted children. In her culture, not having children was a sign that God hadn’t blessed your marriage. She ached for a son. Then she heard that God promised her husband that he would be the father of nations. And yet she still wasn’t getting pregnant. She wanted kids so bad that she asked her husband to sleep with someone else to conceive. (Yikes!) I’m sure she prayed. I’m sure she was desperate. And yet, nothing. Until she was in her late 80s, those prayers went unanswered. Have you been praying for something for 60+ years without an answer? Most of us feel like 60+ days without an answer is cruel. But, are we missing out on God working in the background?
God had a divine plan. Why did He wait until Sarah was this old? I’m not sure; only He knows. But, I believe His plan and timing was perfect. We give God alone the glory for the birth of Isaac. It wasn’t like Isaac would have come naturally without God’s help at this point. After all, Sarah was past childbearing years. And as my Bible study pointed out, most likely Sarah and Abraham weren’t having marital intimacy all that often anymore at this age. But, they obeyed when God told them to have a child (this wasn’t an immaculate conception!) and they believed God could bring to pass what the longings of their heart had been. Sarah probably enjoyed this baby all the more since she had to wait so long for it. Isaac means laughter, and Sarah’s laughing at God turned into laughter of rejoicing! She said that everyone was probably going to crack up when they hear this old lady is pregnant!
God loved Sarah. He hadn’t forgotten about her. He hadn’t left her behind in His plans. He hadn’t forsaken her. But, He did make her wait. He did ask her to trust Him. He did ask her to obey. And He did fulfill His promise to her – she had a baby of promise and she became an important part of history.
Do you wonder if God cares about you? Do you wonder why your prayers go unanswered? Do you wish God would hurry up in working out your situation? If so, remember Sarah. God still used her though she was less than perfect. God showed that He cared for her and every step she took and situation she was in, and God kept His word to her and worked out a grander plan than she would have imagined – just in His perfect timing so that He alone got the glory.
Dear God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the example of Sarah. Thank You for caring about us and our situations. Thank You for showing us that You know us intimately – even when we laugh to ourselves, You know! Yet, You care for us even though we’re not perfect. You show us that Your love for us goes beyond our deserving…back to Your own goodness. Help us see Your grander plan and bigger picture. Don’t let us ruin things by trying to pursue options that aren’t of You. May we trust in Your faithfulness and rely on Your timing. Please, God, act on our behalf. Come to our aid as only You can! We will wait for You. And we thank You and praise You for being God alone. May You receive the glory from our lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!