Even Sarah

“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.” Hebrews 11:11, NIV

I was studying Hebrews 11 yesterday when verse 11 seemed to leap off the page at me. I can recite the verse by heart but I honestly felt as though I’d never read it before, especially the first phrase, “by faith even Sarah…” Even Sarah? After reading through several versions containing similar wording, “by faith Sarah also” by faith Sarah too…” I acknowledged that Sarah is one of the few women being held up as an example of great faith alongside her husband Abraham. Scripture holds forth Sarah as an example of a woman who believed God.

A few years ago, the Lord used Sarah’s example in Genesis 16 as a warning to my soul about the sin of unbelief. After 12 years of waiting for the Lord’s immediate fulfillment of a promise, Sarah comes up with a plan to help the process along. She schemes, she dreams and ultimately, she gives in to her fear that things will never happen unless she gets the ball rolling. Sarah’s unbelief gives birth to polygamy and things only became more entangled from there. Bitterness, hatred and abuse follow. What seemed impossible is now impossibly messy.

Fast forward 12 years and we find Sarah yet again doubting God’s ability to fulfill His promise. She literally laughs in disbelief at a message about the events that were going to unfold. From what follows, I’d like to assume that her heart was changed because a year later, the Lord fulfills the first portion of His promise to Abraham (and Sarah). Scripture makes it pretty clear that two things made this fulfillment possible:

1) Sarah believed 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.”  Hebrews 11:11, NIV

2). God was gracious to Sarah.
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.” Genesis 21:1, NIV

I’m not sure what catalyst caused Sarah to move from unbelief to faith. All I know is that it happened. God, in His grace, restored Sarah. She was transformed from a woman who laughed without hope to a woman who laughed in joy. God, in his grace, fulfilled His promise to Sarah. A legacy 25 years in the making finally began.

When I wrote about Sarah in 2009, I was learning a lot about the sin of unbelief. The Lord was revealing to me how easily my doubtful mindset could lead me astray, causing pain to myself and those around me. You could say that I was learning about a sinful root that gave bloom to all sorts of wickedness in my own heart and life. When I wrote, “I don’t want to be like Sarah,” I truly felt an aversion to the sin in my own life.

Four years down the road, I can see that I am a lot like Sarah. I have failed. I have sinned. I have given in to doubt when I should have exercised faith. I’m like Eve in the garden of Eden, doubting God’s provision and grasping after things that will only cause destruction. No, my life doesn’t show a terribly obvious pattern of rebellion but it’s there in my heart, in my thoughts and in my prayers. My wild, unguarded thoughts have done as much damage to my own soul as Sarah’s rebellion did to her family. Sin always leads to death, even the secret and unknown sort of sin.

The beauty of this realization is that I’m not doomed to a life of quiet rebellion any more than Sarah was. If He can transform Sarah’s heart and hold her forth as a champion of faith, then I am not a lost cause. My closing line from my previous post about Sarah, “Help my unbelief,” is a prayer that is being answered. It may not happen instantaneously. Like Sarah, I’m waiting on Him for a lot of things. But instead of constantly praying, “But Lord…” I can “consider Him faithful who had promised.” I am not a perfect example of faith. Neither was Sarah.

Yet, “by faith even Sarah.’

And even me.