A couple weeks ago we chatted about Hagar, meet Sarah.
Hagar was not the only one woman in our reading from yesterday. Sarah, her master, was actually a huge bible character we see referenced throughout the old testament and new.
"In Scripture the name for a person was not merely a label, but shorthand for the person's characters, a revelation of the true nature". -Moody Bible Commentaries.
Sarai, who would later become Sarah when God fulfilled his promises, has more space devoted to her in the bible than any other women; she is styled as one of the “Holy women” of the Old Testament. Sarai had two big themes in her story. She was beautiful but she was barren.
In Agrarian societies conceiving a child was the woman’s main role. A woman who could not give her husband an heir was seen as less than, as unblessed by God. In this time, culture believed that God held the key to a woman's womb, until he blessed her, she would not bear children. Sarai, was not blessed yet.
Genesis 15:4 A Son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir. Look up at the sky and count the stars-if indeed you can count them- So shall your offspring be.
The fact that Sarai was barren highlights the magnitude of the promise God made her. Her body was counteracting God’s covenant and she began to feel the weight of letting her husband down. Of not fulfilling a role. God promised that Sarai would bear a son, that her husbands offspring would be as numbered as the stars in the sky. Her emotions add fuel to an already painful theme in her life. God made this promise to Sarai, to her husband, but she saw no way to fulfill it. Her faith began to waiver as her emotions took over.
Emotions can not be our guides. Emotions can be liars and can be a fuel for sin.
Women in Sarai’s culture that could not conceive would often reach out and offer the handmaid as a way for their husbands to have an heir. This goes dead against God’s promise. He promised Sarai an heir, not her hand maid. But Sarai followed her emotions and offered her handmaid, hoping this would work anyway. She took matters into her own hands as she did not have the faith to keep waiting on God.
Genesis 16:2 Go, sleep with my slave: perhaps I can build a family through her.
The tension this would create would prove to be more than Sarai could handle. One woman desperately wants something to give to her husband but can not, but then another woman can and did, quickly.
There are six women mentioned in the bible as barren, four of which are the matriarchs we see in Genesis. Sarai was just one of these women, yet she went down in history for her faith and was much loved by God. Just shows you that everyone, even a hero of faith, has moments where they lack faith even just the size of a mustard seed.
Every one of us has that moment where we get rocked, where we become shaky and feel the need to take matters into our own hands. It’s not an excuse, but when comparison has taken a foothold in our hearts, it’s important to know you can come back. You can make another choice- you can still be used for good.
God did not make us to dwell in shame. We are sinful, we live in a fallen world. We are forgiven though and do not need to carry that baggage. Once we repent, we are wiped clean as snow.
Sarai was such a hero of faith, even after the mistakes she made with Hagar, that an entire chapter in Genesis is devoted to her death and burial. Some women we will cover did not even get their name mentioned, but here is Sarai, with an entire chapter devoted to how she was buried. Even after her big mistake that is remembered for all time.
Last week, I painted an ugly picture of her but that was only one part of her story. Every one of us deals with jealousy while comparing ourselves. After Hagar became pregnant Sarai could not handle her. Hagar was prideful in the baby she carried, understandably so, and Sarai was fuming with jealousy and anger that Hagar had this sweet little promise growing inside of her.
Not a single one of us, all these years later, is any better at the comparison game. Social media brings it to our hearts every single day. Just like Sarai had to look at Hagar’s growing belly and be reminded of something her body was not able to do. We do the same today by constantly checking Instagram and Tik Tok.
That girls curvier or she has all the right clothes and boys talking to her. The bible story we see in Genesis still has not changed. The truth is we are human and will always have to battle comparing ourselves.
Where is our value though? Is it in what our bodies look like or have on them or does it rest in Christ who never changes.
Social media is the highlight reel of someone’s day, you’re only seeing the best of the best. It is literally a picture that has been carefully selected out of fifty different attempts that we do not get to see. Filters have been applied, certain poses have been carefully tried. Clothes moved around, sucking in and sticking out. All the right things for that for one split second that showed exactly what was wanted.
But for hearts that are already wounded, as most of ours are, as Sarai’s was, comparison is the thief of our joy. Comparison weakens our heart so the Devil's whispers can be heard even louder.
Satan only needs a tiny bit of truth, for Sarai, he used Hagar. Look Sarai, he whispers, Hagar can have a child. You should just give her to your husband, as this is the only way God’s promises can be fulfilled for you he whispers. “You’re simply not enough the way you are”
For Sarai, she was humiliated domestically by not being able to conceive a child. This was her role and she could not make it happen, her jealousy even caused separation between her husband and her and eventually caused her to stumble in her faith. She manipulated God’s plan, she lacked faith he would do as he promised and she opened the door for the whispers to build in her heart.
She allowed herself to compare to what Hagar had and in one decision she took matters into her own hands. She flat out ran the woman off. She was so mean, she became abusive and cruel- ran a pregnant woman off. God had to send an angel down to clean up Sarai’s mess.
Remember God stepped in for Hagar. He was the “God that sees her”. He was also the God that saw Sarai. He saw her hurts and struggles. Hagar went on to have Ishmael, thirteen years later God sent an angel before Abram (Sarai’s husband).
Genesis 17:3-4 says Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham.
God gave instructions on the covenant between them, but there in that moment changed his name. In the Old Testament markers were left where God had been, to serve as a reminder that the Holy of Holy’s had moved here. The change of a name is the marker that God had made a covenant. He had made a promise. He had moved through this person’s life and they can longer be the same as before.
Genesis 17:15 “Your wife will no longer be called Sarai but Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her.”
When Sarah heard this, she laughed in chapter 18. Will I really have a son now that I am old?? I love that God even calls her on it. “Why did you laugh” he says. I love that poor Sarah was scared and tried to lie, I see myself here. “Umm no God, definitely didn't laugh at this. “
God fulfilled his promise, Sarah had a son named Isaac at the age of 90. She laughs in chapter 21:6 “God has brought me laughter” she says “ everyone who hears of this will laugh with me.”
God first promised Abraham a son as a 75 year old man. Twenty five years later it happened. In 25 years Sarah had faith. She got shaky at times, she messed up and compared herself but God still followed through. He still used her. You can even trace the birth of Jesus back through the blood lines of Abraham and Sarah’s son Isaac.
We all waiver on our walks of faith with God. We all compare ourselves to others, but God still uses us. We are enough in God’s eyes. Whether we are Hagar who has no faith and is all alone or we are Sarah who lets jealousy and the Devil's whispers sneak into her heart. God is there, faithfully and fills our cup.