Lesson One | Devotion #6: Sarah
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
If you ever want to be inspired and encouraged in your faith, Hebrews chapter 11 is a great place to start. This chapter, also known as the “Faith Hall of Fame,” is all about some of the Bible’s all-star characters – men and women known for their faith despite their crazy circumstances. The first woman mentioned in this chapter is Sarah, wife of Abraham. Her story is found mainly in Genesis chapters 12-25, but she is mentioned several more times throughout the Old and New Testament. She is mentioned more than any other woman in Scripture and is the only woman in the Bible to have her name changed by God – from Sarai to Sarah, which means “princess.” God said, “I will bless her and will surely give you [Abraham] a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her” (Genesis 17:16 NIV). Sounds like a woman who could change the world!
Now Abraham and Sarah loved God, and they trusted Him. God had proven faithful to them before, but the promise of a child was harder to grasp for Sarah because she was barren for many years, and she was already getting up there in age. I can only imagine the pain, sadness, and shame she must have felt not to be able to give her husband an heir, let alone the pressure she must have felt due to this promise! God said He would give her a son and yet the clock was ticking and nothing was happening. It was out of her control, and she was desperate. She was so desperate that she took matters into her own hands and gave her handmaiden, Hagar, to her husband so that they could have a child through her. I find it interesting that a woman who is famous for her faith is also famous for being a control freak – two opposing character traits. But how often do we tell God that we trust Him, and yet as soon as something does not go our way on our timetable we try and take matters into our own hands? How often does that work out? For Sarah, it did not. This decision did result in a child, but not the child God had promised, and in the end, it just created a gigantic mess. It brought more pain, more shame, and more sadness.
Luckily for Sarah, God is not one who breaks His promises. Years went by, and again God promised Sarah a son. She was at the ripe old age of 90. When Sarah heard this, she laughed in disbelief, but God responded with words that we should always remember, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) Sarah’s doubtful laugh was soon replaced with the laugh of delight when her son Issac was born. “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man [Abraham], and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” Hebrews 11:11-12 (NIV)
Sarah was a remarkable woman. Despite her shortcomings and because of her faith, God used her to change the world. She would be the mother to the entire Jewish race, the nation of Israel. From her line would come nations, kings, and eventually the King of Kings Himself, Jesus Christ.