Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sarai and the Modern Wife

In my women's ministry, we are studying the book Twelve Extraordinary Women, and this week before class, we were to read the story of Abram and Sarai (who later became Abraham and Sarah), found in Genesis 12-23. As I sat reading about Sarah, who is referred to at times as "the most faithful woman in the bible", The Lord revealed a few "pieces" of the story that didn't relate to me until I became a wife.

1 Peter 3:5-6 mentions Sarah as an example for women of a submissive wife, and she WAS. She honored her husband through and through. From walking 350 miles across the desert to respecting her husband as he gave away their "good" land, and whipping up a meal for three strangers (read the story), she was truly a great example for us ladies.

Here are the three lessons I took away from the story of Abraham and Sarah

1) Women are persuasive, but not always right
I was talking to my friend Sunday about how thankful we were that our husbands carry the burden of decision making, rather than us. We were talking about how our "spaghetti brain" can take a simple thought or decision and turn it into a major spiritual war. Women were not made simple minded, that's for sure. A "black or white" decision for my husband would be a week long battle of the mind for me. But at the same time, my friend and I both agreed that we feel like we have wisdom to throw into the decision making mix. This is true. In fact, before God even CREATED Eve, he described her as "helper". I had a serious attitude with my husband the other night, and I sensed that my arguing wasn't getting a rise out of him. Now, let me say that I don't typically argue for the sake of making my husband angry. . . but hey, we've all been there, right?

. . . please say yes.

Anyway, when I got in bed that night, I asked him why it wasn't bothering him, and he said "Well, I've just realized that you know how to manipulate me, and I'm not going to let it happen anymore."

Ugh! Suckerpunch to the gut. It's so TRUE. I have known for a long time now that manipulation and persuasion is a special little talent I hold dearly within my marriage, but hearing that it is known to someone besides me. . . ouch. It got me thinking - within many marriages and relationships, it's clear that I am not the only woman who struggles with this. Biblically, there's always the the obvious Adam and Eve example, but I saw it within Sarah and Abraham's story as well. . . Hagar, anyone?

2) Don't let FEAR overcome your FAITH
It is always somewhat encouraging to hear that someone "great" also struggled at times. I think that being able to sit with someone who is facing a challenge in life and say "I've been there before, too" is one of the greatest encouragements we can offer someone. I believe there were times that Sarah was truly afraid.

Twice, Abraham and Sarah went by "brother and sister" rather than "husband and wife" for fear of Abraham being killed to obtain his beautiful wife (Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 20:1-18). And the bible actually uses the word "afraid" in Genesis 18:15 when Sarah lies to the three visitors about laughing. At this point, Abraham was already promised many offspring (Genesis 15:5), and was also promised protection (Genesis 12:2-3).

How true is this in our lives? The Lord has promised us so much, yet we all too often let fear get in the way of our faith. I wonder what Sarah must have thought as she looked back on her life, now a great Matriarch. I all too often wish that I could see the end results of God's work in my life. But that's not the point of faith, now, is it?

3) God's timing is typically NOT our timing
We've all heard it - Proverbs 19:21 - "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails". Well, yeah, that about sums it up. . .

That, simply stated, should be my motto in life. I am a woman. I like to be in control. I like to know the next step, and when possible, I like to talk it ALL into my own hands. Once again, Hagar, anyone? Sarah took matters into her own hands, and what came from it? Jealousy, taunting, and the first of many cases of polygamy in the bible. While my fleshly desire to control may not have such enormous consequences, it is still not a Godly characteristic that I am modeling for my children.

In the case of Sarah and Abraham, God's timing was unmistakably HIS timing. Sarah was NINETY years old when she bore Isaac, and Abraham was one hundred. God's power was put on full display by having Sarah wait so long. In fact, Sarah says in Genesis 21:6-7 “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

How many times have I declared on my own "I will never" or "That could never" or "It's impossible"? Well, how many times has the Lord proven me wrong?! My favorite verse to repeat in times of trial, fear, or (mostly) doubt is Jeremiah 32:27 - straight to the point

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"

HE will write my story, I will trust HIM, and HE decides when it will happen. and HIS majesty will be on display because of it.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a husband who speaks truth and relies on you. Thank you for forgiving me when I lack faith in you. May I be a vessel to display your marvelous works.

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