Staring into the face of her husband, she studied how the wrinkles in his sun-beaten face moved in excitement. She had seen this look in his eyes before, and it had brought them out here, in the middle of a desert, on their way to an unknown land. Abraham told her that the Almighty One had met him in the breath of a desert night and promised him descendants as countless as the stars - a promise that caused him to believe. But for Sarah, this promise rested heavy on her heart. Each childless year would be another reminder of how her barren womb kept them from this promise.
THE PAIN OF WAITING
Like Sarah, you may have encountered a promise that seems impossible. Everything in you wants to believe it and have faith in God, but that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You’re confronted with the stark contrast of reality on a daily basis. Perhaps your barren womb is an empty room in your house that’s waiting for your prodigal son to return. Perhaps it’s that ongoing issue in your city or a needed breakthrough in your church. Perhaps it’s your wheelchair, your weekly hospital visits, the unpaid bills on your kitchen counter or the silent tension in your marriage. You’ve been trying to hold on to Scriptures and the advice of well-meaning friends, but very few people see the battle you fight. How could they know how hard you have to wrestle with the voices that tell you to just give up? Trust isn’t something that comes in a neatly-wrapped package on your doorstep every morning. It’s a daily battle against lies and hopelessness that have left their marks on you over the years.
Sarah was familiar with this battle. When the weight of the promise became too heavy to bear, she offered her maid to her husband in order for him to receive his heir. It was the ultimate act of humiliation, but to her, it was better than having to stand by and watch decades fade away in wait of an impossible promise. As a woman of status, influence, and noticeable beauty, she had learned how to steer a situation into a direction she deemed right. But this time, she steered towards the birth of Ishmael, the heartbreak of her maid Hagar, and ultimately to a bitterness in her own heart that would weigh her down more than her unfulfilled promise ever could.
Even so, the Almighty One was not finished with her story. He made a covenant with Abraham and restated that Sarah could not exclude herself from this promise. He looked at Sarah with compassion and called her by a different name. No longer was anyone allowed to call her Sarai, meaning “striving” or “quarrelsome." From now on, she would be known as Sarah, “queen”. God looked at a situation that was now even more impossible than before, and told a 100-year old man and his 90-year old barren wife that they would receive their son of promise.
AN IRREPLACEABLE HEART
God was not just on a mission to get countless descendants onto the earth. Sarah wasn’t a pawn on His massive chess board that could be replaced by anyone in order to get His way. Even when she tried to take herself out of the equation, the Lord patiently put her back right into the middle of the promise. It wasn’t just about the outcome for Him. It was about the heart of a woman.
When Sarah looked up at the countless stars, she saw millions of sparkling signs of her failure and incapability. What she didn’t know was that the countless stars were specks in the eyes of a Creator who was looking back at a woman that He called His queen - one that He longed to make a mother of nations.
“Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said , and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. And they called him Isaac; laughter. Sarah said: “ God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21: 1-6, NASB)
Sarah had laughed in unbelief when the angel of the Lord gave her the promise of a son. Less than a year later, the same sound was turned into a song of rejoicing. But Sarah didn’t become a mother the moment she gave birth to her son. Sarah became a mother the moment she believed in God’s faithfulness. Like Hebrews 11:11 states, “...she received the ability to conceive when she considered Him faithful who had promised.” A queen rose up from striving and held onto the Faithful One.
BECOMING A MOTHER OF NATIONS
Sarah’s story is about the incredible, miraculous power of God. It’s an encouragement for you to keep believing for your own impossible promise to become reality. But her story is not just about fulfilled promises. It’s also about the journey of a woman’s trust that shaped her into a mother. Through belief, Sarah received the strength to carry her promise before it became visible, and the wisdom to take care of it after the promise arrived.
Your journey of believing for the impossible can do the same for you. This time is not wasted; it’s getting you ready. As you are believing for your promise, know that every step you take in faith shapes you into the very person you are called to be. He shapes you in the waiting. He reveals Himself in seasons of trust. You can release your song of laughter, because He will be faithful to the promise that you carry.
You can’t take yourself out of the equation; the promises of God are eternally connected to you. Before the foundations of the earth, God had a dream and He wrapped you around it. You are far more significant than you could ever imagine. You will give birth to your promise, and in the meantime, you will be shaped into a mother of nations.
Written by Eline Millenaar