Are you a planner? Do you wake up each morning, making a list of all that you hope to accomplish that day? What about for the upcoming week? Year? Decade? Do you have a Plan B or C or a final option for when none of your best laid plans turn out the way you’d hoped?
Today on All God’s Women, I talk about Sarah, a woman who had a plan for all occasions. Unfortunately, sometimes her plans got ahead of God’s plans.
Most women in the Bible have a chapter or two at most dedicated to their story. Many women have merely a verse or two. Sarah’s story, however, encompasses thirteen chapters in Genesis, plus mentions in Isaiah, Romans, Hebrews, and 1 Peter.
While Sarah is a woman greatly admired, she is also a woman who spent much of her life in fear, compensating for her worries by creating elaborate schemes. She and Abraham both were that way, but none of their ideas turned out the way they expected.
Almost as soon as we’re introduced to Sarah, we see her fear. She and Abraham leave their homeland to travel to a foreign region, following God’s direction. We see no evidence that either of them were afraid to pack up all their belongings and embark on an adventure to new lands. However, when they sojourn to Egypt during a famine, fear overcomes them. Abraham devises a scheme to pass off Sarah as his sister in order to save himself. Sarah goes along with his suggestion.
How scared Sarah must have been when things go awry and the Pharaoh whisks her away from Abraham and into the king’s palace, preparing her to be a part of his royal haram. Fortunately, God was watching out for all concerned, and intervened, bringing great plagues on Pharaoh and his household. I can only imagine the relief Sarah must have felt to be reunited with her husband.
If it were me, I think I would have learned my lesson, but apparently, Abraham and Sarah were slow learners. They pulled the same deceit twice. First, in Egypt, then years later, they pulled the same stunt again, this time with the king of Gerar. Again, God intervened and delivered them to safety.
You’d think since Sarah had personally witnessed the hand of God at work in her life, that she would know that she could trust Him. But even though she knew God had promised Abraham a son, after time continued to pass without a baby, Sarah let her fears get the best of her. Perhaps she feared that God had forgotten them. Or maybe, she feared, they’d misunderstood God. Obviously, Sarah was far to old to bear a child. If Abraham was to have his heir, she’d need to take matters into her own hands.
In her fear and lack of faith, Sarah stepped out on her own, devising a plot that was to have eternal consequences. We all know how Sarah presented her slave girl to Abraham so that he could have a son through Hagar. But, as it always happens when we take over and leave God out of the plan, things didn’t work out quite the way she expected.
Interestingly, the time when we would most expect Sarah and Abraham to exhibit fear, we see none. No mention is made of Sarah in the account of Abraham taking Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him. Did Abraham not tell Sarah? Did he tell her and she accepted it? Seems unlikely, but we’ll never know since the Bible doesn’t tell us.
The good news is that despite her failings, Sarah was deeply loved by God and by her family. What is amazing to me is that an entire chapter in Genesis is dedicated to the death of Sarah. I’m not sure why Abraham wasn’t with her when she died, or why she died in Hebron rather than Beersheba. Nevertheless, when Abraham got the word, he hurried to her and went to a lot of effort to find the perfect burial spot for her.
It’s easy to berate ourselves when we are fearful, but God understands fear. Throughout the Bible, He’s always reminding people to not be afraid. He knows that’s our natural inclination. He reminds us, though, that we don’t have to live in fear. If we can only trust Him and quit trying to take the weight of our worries on our own, He will take care of it all in a way that far surpasses anything we could imagine. We can be fearless if we give it to Him instead of holding onto it ourselves.
Right now most of us are living in some state of fear, whether it’s the fear of sickness or death, worrying about the future, our jobs, our income, our country. Fear is overtaking our world. We’re all searching for answers, but we need to make sure that our trust is in God, not in our own wisdom. We do not need to be like Sarah who let her fear direct her paths, doing what seemed right in her own eyes rather than waiting for God to do His thing. We need to have patience when God does not take action in our timetable. We need to remind ourselves that God is in control and if we put our faith in Him, He will see us through this present situation as well as whatever else our future holds. We must not let our fear cause us to act foolishly.
Lord God, we come to you, many of us fearful for our lives. Nothing makes sense to us. What we thought we knew, no longer applies. Every day is something new to fear. Lord, please take our fears and show us how to replace them with faith. Forgive us for those times when we allow our fears to consume our minds. Reveal yourself to us, reminding us how much you love and care for us and how you want what’s best for us. Be patient with us when we fail. We love you. In Christ’ name. Amen.
Tune in next week when we talk about Hagar, a woman who was seen by God.
Sarah – Genesis 11-23
Romans 4:19, 9:9
1 Peter 3:6
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