Monday, April 28, 2014

When We Hope for More: A Series on the Sarah of Genesis

Towards the end of the Bible, there is a collection of Bible greats. An account of the most impressive and praise-worthy acts of faith. I am doing this mini-series on Sarah, who earned a spot along the triumphs of faith. (Check out the first entry on Sarah here) In Hebrews 11, we see that Sarah "considered Him faithful who had promised." 

I see her standing along the catwalk of other faith giants, and I must admit---she looks a bit...unimpressive. A bit puny. 

She's kinda weak, a bit moody. She's was impulsive and impatient.

Yet, it is her very weakness, even her moodiness, that draws me to her! And it is the quick ups and chronic downs, the painful twists and surprise turns of her life that make me feel inspired.

I'm not a person that hides my emotions very well.  I'm also not a person that controls my emotions very well. :) And as I become a real. live. grown up, I find that life is FULL of quick ups and somewhat chronic downs, some painful twists and exciting surprise turns.

But I want my conclusion to be the same as Sarah's----He who promised is faithful.

So as we pick up Sarah's story again, years have passed since she was saved from Pharaoh's hand. The butterfly feeling of being rescued by God had now become a faint memory.  God has appeared to her husband a few more times, Abraham keeps experiencing the favor of God. He keeps getting richer, and more famous.  God has strengthened Abraham’s faith, telling him his kids will be as many as the stars in the sky, that the entire land of Canaan will be his. 

But Sarah, not Sarah.  No pregnancy.  She is approaching 80 years old.  

Her uterus is as dry as the dessert she lives in. Her wrinkles as many as the stars in the sky.  

I wonder if it got to Sarah.  If her hope dipped, once again.

Another decade comes and goes.  Sarah is now 90 and still childless.     

But Sarah is about to be reminded of her Egypt experience.  

God, the promise-giver, says to Abraham, “As for Sarah, I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations, kings of people will come from her.”  

It's like He says “Sarah, my princess, you have worth in my eyes. Sarah, I have promises for YOU.  Grab them! They are yours! You will be blessed by me! In me, you have huge purpose. You will change this world."  

In one interaction with God, all of the vague, somewhat general promises she knew of, became personal. And real.

Sometimes, when promises seem slow in coming, our hearts can build up ugly callouses. When we experience pain or discouragement, year after year, I think doubt can train us. I think we could all agree that sometimes, there's a lot of responses that are easier than believing.

I think that's where Sarah was. Because in the moment that her husband's promises become hers, in the moment that her hopes started becoming a reality, in the minute that her dreams become spoken word, she fails to believe.

Instead, she laughs.

She says, I’m so old! Abraham is even older!”  Reason, science, biology, whatever you call it, she had her excuse ready.

It was her opportunity to be strong, to be brave. To check the box that says "I believe!"

But she missed it.

But He who promised was faithful. The Lord fulfilled his promise.  Sarah’s became pregnant, her barrenness a thing of the past. 

She had her child of promise one year later. (Isaac, the father of Jacob, who I blogged about recently).

As Sarah's stomach grew, was their even one day she didn’t review her faith journey?  The myriad of emotions she had felt-- doubt, anger, hurt, despair? As she began feeling the child move within her, did her eyes sting with tears that this God would be so merciful to HER? That despite all her ups and downs, her girly highs and lows, her temper tantrums, pity parties, that he would still fulfill his promise to her?  

The unbelievable talk became believable.  The dreaded command to leave all that she knew, and the promise that seem to highlight her incapability, had now become something beautiful.  

Would we have believed God if we were Sarah?  If he spoke a promise over us, a promise of purpose, and adventure, despite our weaknesses or faults, would we believe? 

Could we resist the urge to laugh? Could we grab hold of these promises, grab hold of them till our knuckles are white, and allow them to be an anchor for our souls? An anchor that keeps us from getting carried away in a tide of doubts and fears?

Do we believe that we have certain traits, habits, or regrets that disqualify us from God's blessings? Do we think that the "Abrahams" around us deserve the promises and callings and adventures, but we do not? That maybe we are just too....weak, emotional, rebellious, moody, plain, quiet, have God give us His promises?  

This promise-giver loves to build our stories around our very own ache, our incapabilities, our greatest hurts, our strongest doubts.

The Faithful one promises that we can hope for more than what we know.

Sarah could hope for more than Ur, more than barrenness, more than doubt.

He gave her Canaan, He gave her children, He gave her faith.

He takes our barrenness--our emptiness--and fills us with His hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment