Sarah’s heart ached for a child to hold and claim as her own. The Lord promised Abraham that he would be the Father of many nations yet through their years together, a child had not been born. This was discouraging to both Abraham and Sarah but she held a burden in her heart which had not come to pass. Her journey from discouragement to hope is recorded in scripture.
Discouragement to Hope: Significance of Sarah’s Story
Sarah was married to Abraham, a man referred to as “The Friend of God”. She was unique both as Abraham’s wife and in her own right. World history would not be the same without her.
- Because she was the wife of Abraham who became the father of the Jewish nation, Sarah was the first Hebrewess. A new nation was born under the leadership of Abraham with Sarah at his side. God promise there would be many nations blessed because of their relationship with Him. She is the mother of the Jewish nation, Israel.
“God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you 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 17:15 NIV
- Sarah’s faith was acknowledged in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11:11. She is one of
only two women recognized for their enduring faith in God.
“ 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, 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
- According to LOCKYER’S ALL THE WOMEN OF THE BIBLE, Bible Gateway “Sarah is the only woman whose specific age is stated in Scripture. A girl’s approximate age is given us in the gospels. The only daughter of Jairus whom Jesus raised from the dead was “about 12 years of age” (Luke 8:42).” Knowing Sarah’s age is unusual in scripture but that’s not what is so unique about her. What is special is she became pregnant and had a son at the age of 90.
Sarah’s uniqueness is important for many reasons during many times. Even though she is held in high regard, she still suffered from discouragement, not unlike many of us.
Discouragement to Hope: Sarah’s Problem
Sarah was a loving and faithful wife to Abraham but she had her own traits that plagued her and caused her to fall short of God’s plan. It could be said that she was impatient yet the length of time she waited could test anyone’s faith. Let’s look at what Sarah was experiencing.
- God had promised a child to Abraham and Sarah. She had been barren even before they left Ur. When she heard God’s prediction, she probably expected it to happen right away. It didn’t so therefore discouragement began to set in.
- As the years rolled by, there were no children born to Sarah. In this time of history, bearing many children was the highlight of women. It was even consider a sign of disfavor by God not to have children. Sarah was beginning to suffer greatly because of this and she began to forget God’s plan for her.
Discouragement to Hope: Sarah’s Mistake
Its very easy to think we would have handled the situation better. After all, Sarah was a mature, Godly woman and God’s promise was in her pocket. She should have been above reproach. Discouragement can lead us down a road of problems if we don’t let the Lord lead us from discouragement to hope. Sarah made a mistake that shaped the world we live in today.
This is where Sarah is known for her impatience. This was building in her for many years and now had become too much for her to handle. She decided to take the matter into her own hands.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.” Genesis 16:1-4 NIV
Sarah was so desperate for a child that she allowed her husband to sleep with someone else. Not only did she try to manipulate God’s plans but used a dishonorable tool. She thought this child would be the answer to her heart’s desire.
As mistakes usually do, Sarah suffered even more as she watched Hagar grow large with child. Hagar’s child, Ishmael would become a thorn in the side of Sarah as well as the Hebrew nation.
Discouragement to Hope: Sarah’s Answer
At the age of ninty-nine, the Lord appeared to Abraham and made a covenant with him. He promised He would be a father of many nations. Ishmael would be blessed but he could not be heir to Abraham because Sarah was going to have the rightful heir God had intended.
The Lord appeared to Abraham again and told him that Sarah was to become pregnant. Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent.
“Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 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, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:11-15
Sarah knew the condition of her 90 year old body. We probably would have laughed as she did and understandably so.
Discouragement to Hope: Sarah’s Joy
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ And she added, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.'” Genesis 21:1-7 NIV
At last Sarah hope is made complete in joy. Her hearts desire has been answered by the Lord. What a miracle to have a son at all, much less at the age of 90. God does not always answer our prayers when we want but He answers with what is best.
Discouragement to Hope: God’s Answer
Throughout Sarah’s journey from discouragement to hope, she forgot her strength is not in her emotions but in the Lord. The route she chose led her through a path of pain. This happens to us when we take our eyes off of the Lord.
It is easy to depend on ourselves, it is what comes natural to us. We need to go to the Lord first about our discouragements and let him guide us in a more peaceful manner. Believe me I have experienced both ways and His is perfect.
What does God say about discouragement?
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Accept the challenge with me to look first to the Lord when we become discouraged. Let’s choose the path of least resistance and follow HIm.