Faith isn’t easy. Not that it was promised to be easy, but I certainly didn’t imagine it would be as difficult as it is. While I juggle a busy schedule and attempt to maintain my emotional sanity, I still (impatiently) cling to promises made by God. I hold hope that things will come to fruition. But it’s not an easy thing to do. And it’s not getting any easier.
Sarah was a woman whose faith was tested in the biggest ways. Despite being lovely in appearance and married to a righteous, wealthy man, Sarah (or Sarai) had a big problem—she couldn’t conceive.
In the 21st century, infertility is heartbreaking, but there are ways to aid conception. But in Sarah’s time, beyond the sorrow that came with infertility, Sarah’s value as a woman was nonexistent because she couldn’t do the one thing a woman was expected to do—bear children. She was lacking in the womb and therefore lacking in worth. Despite how much her husband loved her and how much he could give her, no gift or affection could ease the hurt in her heart or fill the gaping hole in her soul.
Some would say that this inability to conceive a child was the big test, but I think the years of not conceiving were just practice for the real thing. I think the legitimate test came when Abram was promised something by the Lord—that, despite his old and baron wife, he would be a father.
Have you ever felt pressured? Pressure to act a certain way, wear the perfect outfit, have the prettiest makeup, read your Bible more than your friends? Imagine the pressure Sarah felt when she had been unable to conceive in her younger years, and then, when they were old, God told her husband he would be a father. If she failed, God would be unfaithful, a promise-breaker. If she failed, Abram would reject her. If she failed, she would be even more of an outcast. Her entire life, she had lived believing she had failed Abram as a wife, and now she was presented with the fear of failing God.
How often do I fall into the trap of believing that I have to perform to “make” God good? I believe that if I read my Bible more or serve better at church or always maintain the right attitude, that God becomes more loving and more faithful. But all God needs from us is to put our faith in Him. God’s faithfulness and goodness are already so perfect, they don’t increase or decrease based upon us and our actions. He’s already given all of Himself; He couldn’t possibly be more because of anything we do or don’t do.
Sarah didn’t quite understand this. She still lived in fear that she had to perform and measure up. She lived under a pressure that drove her to take matters into her own hands, and “force” God’s spoken promise into physical existence by having her husband conceive a child with her slave, Hagar. Hallie wrote a blog post last week week about the effect this had on Hagar and her child, but it also negatively impacted Sarah, who came to resent Hagar for following her master’s orders. Sarah allowed her fear, and Hagar, to fulfill the promise of God that was rightfully hers—and then she became incredibly jealous. Rushing God’s promises ruins contentment.
But, despite Sarah’s lack of faith, God was still faithful. He not only kept His promise to Abram by blessing Ishmael and Hagar, He kept His promise to Sarah. He returned to Sarah years later and made it clear that—despite her impatient actions—it would still be her child that would be the fulfillment of the promise.
And Sarah hysterically laughed. She laughed, thinking how ridiculous it would be if she had a child at 90 years old. She laughed, believing that it was too late for her. She laughed, believing her chance for trusting God and stepping out in faith had passed her up.
Friend, it’s time to stop laughing. It wasn’t too late for God to use Sarah and it isn’t too late for Him to use you. A season of unfaithfulness won’t change God’s plan for you. A season of doubt or lethargy or apathy won’t make Him abandon you. He’s waiting, so patiently:
For us to stop doubting.
For us to stop worrying.
For us to stop laughing.
God was faithful to Sarah. A woman who was baron for all of her life, at the age of 90 years old, conceived and gave birth to an entire nation. God was faithful to Sarah.
God isn’t going to stop choosing you. God will be faithful to you.