Okay, ladies, Im still keeping up with my new book The Extraordinary Mother by John MacArthur and want to share Sarah with you this morning to hopefully motivate you somehow!!
Let me begin by saying that I learned so much about Sarah that I really had no clue about. She is of course most known for being Abraham's wife and being the mother of Isaac, but I think what we don't really know about her is how much she is just like all of us. We don't always understand God's ways or why He does what He does and it is sometimes so frustrating. Well, we have nothing to complain about in comparison to Sarah. What I learned most from Sarah is God's sovereignty and how I must rely on that!
What was the one thing Sarah always wanted but never had...CHILDREN. We all know that Sarah didnt give birth to her son Isaac until she was well into her 90's. But do you know that like most of us, Sarah decided that she would take matters into her own hands because "SHE KNEW BETTER"? Sound familiar? Maybe we don't intentionally take our lives into our own hands, but you know what...neither did Sarah. She truly felt like she was doing what God would have her to do, but she wasn't waiting for Him in her heart.
We learn from scripture that she spent years and years frustrated and depressed at the fact that she couldn't have children. Above anything else, she wanted to be a mother. Finally, she came to grips with the fact that she thought God would not want her to have children (Gen. 16:2). Now, while we all know her as being the one who waited on the Lord and had faith in the Lord, I say again that it is the in-between realizing that she wasn't going to have children, and actually giving birth that makes her an extraordinary mother and what convicts me. John MacArthur says, "The full spectacle of Sarah's amazing faith doesn't really become apparent until we contemplate the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles to that faith." I could not agree more!!
Think about this. Sarah and Abraham were city folk. They were very urban and all of the sudden they are wandering around in the wilderness. They left everyone behind and followed God's instruction. She believed God when he said, "I will make you a graet nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing." (Gen. 12:2). But honestly, at the age of 70, she didnt really see how in the world God could make that happen. In her eyes she was way too old to have children. But she had faith and pushed forward, believing in the promise of God. In her mind though, she knew that this just wasn't working. How could Abraham be the father of the nations if his wife couldn't have children??? Her HUMAN perspective began to eat at her and weighed on her causing her to be extremely frustrated and desparate. Have you ever felt that way? You know God is going to work and you are believing in Him to work, but He just isn't working according to your human perspective. Every time, that gets me nowhere. Just like us, Sarah didn't understand what God was doing. She didnt get that God wanted her to be so old that there it would be completely impossible for her to give birth so that He would be glorified. She didnt see that!! So, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Boy, I have done that a time or two! She had completely convinced herself that she was keeping God from working. That Abraham should have a baby with someone else because Sarah was not going to be able to bear children. She convinced Abraham to conceive a child with their maid Hagar. Sarah was losing heart, her faith was beginning to wane and she was desparate for God to do His will, so she thought she would do it for him. Can you imagine sending your husband to conceive a child with someone else and convincing yourself that it is what must be done. Sarah had obviously gone off the deep end in desparation and frustration with her circumstances and inability to give Abraham the one thing she so longed to give him. Remember she had wanted children now for 70 years.
When Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, Abraham was 86 years old and 13 long and grueling years passed on for poor Sarah. If she wasn't completely hopeless by this point, she must have been extremely close. But when Sarah was 90, God came to Abraham, in HIS perfect timing and said that Sarah would bear a child that will establish a covenant and Sarah would be the mother of all nations. Im sure Sarah was beside herself with excitement, but then God waited another full year to fulfill his promise. Finally, Sarah gave birth to a son which she named Isaac.
God had indeed been faithful to Sarah and her lifelong bitterness and dissappointment faded with the days sun. But what does Sarah still have to continue to deal with?? The son that Abraham had with Hagar. How hurtful must that be for her? This was by her own doing and now surely it is a most terrible situation. Finally, Sarah breaks. Ishmael is making fun of her son Isaac and she commands Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. Poor Abraham must say goodbye to his son because of his wife's request which God came to him and told him was necessary. Because of sin and trying to take things into her own hands instead of waiting on the Lord, Sarah had much more heart ache than was necessary.
Paul uses this as an illustration between works and grace. No matter what Sarah tried to do to make God's plan come into play, her works could never take the place of God's plans and her human efforts (the scheme that conceived Ishmael as an artificial fulfillment of God's plan) is utterly incompatible with divine grace (the birth of Isaac, the heir of God's promise).
As far as we know the rest of Sarah's years, following Hagar's banishment, were lived in joy and peace, but Sarah had been well tested. She proved to be faithful, but the pain Sarah caused herself and the time and effort Sarah put into putting God's promise in motion were completely unnecessary. Obviously, Sarah couldn't see 70 years into her future to know that God would fulfill His promise, but I think that this offers a crystal ball for us. We can see how long it took for God to fulfill his promise to Sarah and Abraham and how His plan is always perfect and no matter what we do, we cannot change it. His sovereignty far outweighs human will...GLORY BE TO HIM.
I encourage you today to think about your life and what you may be waiting on the Lord to do. Are you hoping to conceive a child, having financial burdens, marriage strains? Whatever you are struggling with, remember Sarah. Remember the trouble she caused herself by trying too hard to make things happen. Look to the Lord and remember that His ways are perfect and that he is holy and just and will take care of those who love him and obey his commands. I encourage you today to spend your time thinking about Sarah and her desparation to see the Lord's plan in action. Wait on the Lord patiently and seek to find him instead of spinning your wheels trying to force his will. I am so guilty of that. When I think that I have it all figured out is just when God knocks me right back down to reality. It is so painful, yet so encouraging to know that we are not in control, be He who created us.
I hope you have a great day!! Next week we will completely contrast Sarah and look to Hagar, "the other woman." Please join me as we continue to learn how to be "The Extraordinary Mother."
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