My daughter’s favorite story in her new Bible App Storybook for Kids right now is about Abraham and Sarah. It’s in her Bible under the picture of beautiful stars, and her favorite character is Sarah. I was surprised and asked her why. (I was thinking, prepare yourself for a thoughtful, Biblical answer, Mama!) “Well, she has a purple dress, Mom.” 4 year olds. 🙂
Sarah is an interesting character for many different reasons, but she is a terrific example of how God can bring beauty from ashes. This woman went through torment. First of all, her husband passed her off as his sister so he wouldn’t be killed by Pharaoh because she was so beautiful. (Thanks, dude.) She goes along with it, and ends up in Pharaoh’s harem. (http://www.womeninthebible.net/Sarah-bible-text.htm). You can imagine what she probably went through during this time. Interestingly enough, Sarai was barren. You have to wonder if this was part of God’s protection to keep her from bearing Pharaoh’s offspring during this horrible time during her life. Eventually, the truth came out and Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abram because Pharaoh believed she was the cause of his punishment due to adultery.
Sarai mourned her infertility and begged God for a child. This is heartbreaking in modern times, and many women undergo fertility treatments and years of living month to month, checking basal temperatures and taking tests in hopes of having a sweet little one to hold in their arms someday. Fertility clinics weren’t exactly prevalent back in those days, however. Genesis 16 tells us that Sarai decides to remedy this problem, which was amplified because Abram was the tribe’s leader and she could not bear children. So, Sarai decided to do what we women do all the time in modern times; she took matters into her own hands. She decided to make it happen for herself since it didn’t seem like God was listening to her plight.
Ouch, that hits home to this mama. How many times have I overreacted in fear because I couldn’t see the big picture? (Too many to count) Especially with my children. Our human minds cannot comprehend and that is not what we want to hear or accept at times. I have found myself on the bathroom floor begging God to do something or intervene in certain situations and finally He did. He made me realize I needed Him to change me. And I needed Him to change me every day, multiple times a day until my ways matched His ways and I gave up the need for an explanation and just obeyed.
I can be stubborn. But God never gives up on us. Never. He never gave up on Sarai, and she gave her servant, Hagar to her husband to get a child. (Fertility clinics 1.0?) Her plan worked in theory, but destroyed her relationship with Hagar and almost destroyed her relationship with her husband, who just did what she told him to do, right? 😉 Things got so turbulent, that in the end Sarah forced Abraham to make Hagar take her son, Ishmael, and get the heck outta dodge.
Now. This story is about Sarai, right? Sure. But what about Hagar? She became defiant to her mistress after she learns she is pregnant, and Sarai begins to mistreat her so she runs away. Then, she has the first encounter with The God Who Sees Her.
Despite this, Hagar very nearly made it to Egypt. But eventually, exhausted, she stopped at a spring of water in the wilderness of Shur. At this moment, an ‘angel’ spoke to her, telling her to return to Sarah and have her baby among the Hebrews. It would be a special child, a child with a great future. So she retraced her steps and returned to the tribe, and to Sarah.
Hagar gritted her teeth, and made her way back to Sarai who treated her horribly. She had Ishmael, and for fourteen years, he was Abram’s heir and future leader. To make matters worse for Hagar and better for Sarai, God promises Abraham and Sarah a son, and once Isaac is born, the bitter feud grows worse and manifests a perfect picture of unforgiveness, jealousy and control. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means Princess. HE GAVE HER THE VERY DESIRE OF HER HEART!!! Yet, she was consumed with hatred for Hagar and her son and it stole her joy.
How many times have I overlooked blessings because the enemy had diverted my gaze to something designed to take my eyes off the Lord?
Finally, Sarah convinces Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael and he reluctantly does so. Hagar is devastated and is sure of both her and her son’s death because they cannot make it across the desert with so little bread and water. But then, God stepped in. Again. He provided for Hagar and Ishmael. He saw her and He heard her cries. And He has never stopped listening.
When you are in the desert, God sees you. He sees you when you are crying because your heart is hurting from a loss that is out of your control. He sees you when your child is struggling and going further and further away. He sees you when you are late for work again because you are working two jobs and trying to care for your children. He sees you when you are trying to make your bills work and are scared to death. He sees you when you are trying to parent the best you can and feel like you are failing. He sees you when you are trying to work through the hurt in your heart but keep taking one step forward and two steps back. He sees you. You are not alone.
Keep going, even when it is impossible. When the desert becomes a wasteland, cry out. Even if all you can say is “Jesus.” Just say it. There is not place you can ever be where God cannot hear you. Never be afraid to reach out. We are all in this together and we have a God who is alive and sees us where we are. He will never leave you. He may not answer you in the way you think He should. Be prepared for this. Sarah and Hagar probably didn’t get the answers they thought they would get, but God never left them and He answered their prayers and heard their cries. If you are ready, make a list of all the promises God has answered for you. And if you can’t think of any, google “promises in the Bible,” and start looking at all the beautiful promises that are there for you. You are loved and valued and heard. May these words wash over you today and bless you, friend. 🙂