Ten chapters in Genesis cover the span of Sarah’s life. Abraham, the “friend of God,” was her husband. When God called Abraham to leave his father’s house and travel to a land He would show him, they obeyed. They packed up all of their belongings, their entire household including servants and flocks, and started their journey. They spent many years following without really knowing how God would fulfill His plans, but holding dearly to His promises – of a permanent possession of land, of innumerable descendants, of His protection and the great reward of His own Presence, of a covenant with Almighty God, that they would become a great nation through which all nations of the world would be blessed.
Sarah was Abraham’s “princess.” She was beautiful and treasured, but she was barren. Abraham was wealthy and successful and boldly confident in the One true God who spoke to him and directed him personally. But Sarah was still barren, and in her culture it probably felt more like a curse than any kind of blessing.
I am sure there were times of doubt, trying to make sense of God’s plans when they seemed so contrary to human reasoning. We don’t know how Sarah felt about God’s call on her husband’s life or their new, transient lifestyle. Did she find it adventurous and exciting, a chance to escape the judgmental glances or hard questions of others that she never could answer, or did it leave her weary, lonely, questioning, and longing – still longing for a child and now also longing for anything that felt like “home?”
We don’t know. But we know that when God called Abraham, they went. We don’t know how much courage it took, but we know it was a leap of faith – enough faith to obey and to follow the path to which God pointed.
There were faltering steps too… when fear and impatience led to unwise and ungodly decisions – when protecting Abraham, the one who had received the promises, drove them apart and left Sarah alone and in danger in foreign lands – when the fulfillment of those promises was too long in coming and Sarah, herself, offered the alternative path of using a surrogate mother to have a child, only to complicate their struggles with deeper strife, heartache, separation and blame.
God was the one who made the covenant with Abraham and He was faithful to fulfill His promises. God protected the ones through whom those promises would be realized!
When all hope seemed lost, God reiterated His plans for Abraham to have a son through whom His promises would come. Only this time, God spoke Sarah’s name! He made it clear that His covenant promises would not be through a surrogate mother’s child, but through Sarah’s son!
Beyond human comprehension and the laws of physical science (as only God can do!), Sarah and Abraham would have a child! Sarah may not have spoken to the Lord face to face as Abraham had, but she heard His voice. She heard Him identify her by name and promise the impossible! She would come to know in the very depths of her being that NOTHING is too hard for the Lord!
I wonder if that day behind the tent door was a turning point for Sarah, when she heard the One true God speak her name and proclaim with assurance that His promise would be fulfilled through her. I wonder if that was the moment she realized that the certainty of that promise was not up to her or to Abraham – or to the state of their physical bodies – or even remotely jeopardized by their disbelief. It was simply God’s doing – and nothing is impossible with God!
Hebrews tells us that Sarah, herself, believed that God would keep His promise, that she judged Him faithful. This was not just taking Abraham’s word for it, not just following his lead as head of their home – this was her personal moment of trusting God! And maybe for the first time, she stood confidently with her husband, knowing that Almighty God saw them as *one* and that *together* they would see Him accomplish great things!
I find it heartwarming that the Lord named their son “Isaac” – which means “laughter.” Sarah would finally be a mom! She would feel him growing inside her. She would know the elation of hearing his first cry after the pain of labor. She would rock and bounce a baby in her arms and sing him to sleep. She would watch him grow and note each milestone. Sarah would know a deeper joy than she could imagine … a true laughter, not of disbelief, but of awe and worship with which nothing could compare.
After the birth of Isaac, we don’t read of their family moving again. Could it be that they were finally settled? Living in God’s promised land, raising God’s promised son, and looking forward to the fulfillment of promises beyond their lifetimes. Sarah enjoyed almost 40 years with the family she longed to have for so long. When she died, Abraham purchased the very first piece of “permanent possession” God promised – for a burial place. Sarah was the first to be buried there. Abraham honored her with this act and mourned the loss of his “princess.”
As I have thought back over the details of Sarah’s life, one thing stood out to me – the transition from restlessness to rest, wandering and longing to peace. What made the difference? Could it be that for so many years she simply didn’t understand that God’s plans and promises for her husband involved her too? That God never intended to lead Abraham and to bless him, to grow him and to draw him closer to Himself, or to fulfill great plans through him without her?
Could some of her weariness, restlessness, or impatience have stemmed from a feeling that she was forgotten or unimportant?
But this is what the Lord says, your Creator, the One who formed you: “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1
Despite the missteps, the doubting, the rushing ahead of God, the times when they did not act “as one” and ended up with a mess on their hands, God remained faithful. And at just the right time, God made sure Abraham and Sarah knew that He saw them as one. God spoke both of their new names – changing Abram (honored father) & Sarai (princess) to Abraham & Sarah (father AND mother of many nations). God named their son Isaac (laughter), knowing that through him, TOGETHER, they would experience deep, soul-strengthening joy that could only come from God taking their “impossibles” and showing them exactly what He can do – immeasurably, abundantly, above all that they could imagine!
Sarah’s story captivates me! There are so many interesting facets to her journey. I am sure I will revisit it again and again with great interest and joy… and learn new things each time! For now, I am thankful for the chance to let it all “simmer” while I consider some stand-out thoughts about the God who wrote her story… and writes mine too!
He is the God who spoke Sarah’s name personally and made sure she knew from His own lips that the promises He had given to her husband involved her! He is the God who saw Abraham and Sarah as “no longer two, but ONE.” Together they would receive all He had promised. The call to leave home and pursue His greater, further reaching plans was not just to Abraham, it was also to Sarah! They would become the father AND mother of many nations. Together they would walk by faith, stumble through fear and frustration, pack and move more times than most of us would prefer… and experience God’s unshakeable faithfulness at every turn! He is the God who would lead them back again and again to His promised land, to Hebron, where peace finally reigned, where they could enjoy the son of God’s promise for nearly 40 years together. The first actual purchase of land in the territory He had promised would be for a permanent burial place for His special people ~ the first of which was Sarah. She was precious to Abraham – and to God! Her life of struggle found a place to rest – with the One who had called, the One who had promised, the One who was faithful – to both of them!
Read more here! – Genesis chapters 11-20 – James 2:23 – Hebrews 11:11