Sarah, previously known in Scripture as “Sarai,” is one of the most familiar women in the Bible, memorialized in our hearts as an unspeakable beauty, the wife of Abraham and an obedient servant—a woman we desire to be. But when I peel back the layers of her story, I see someone a little closer to the woman that I am. I see a restless waiter and muddler of God’s plans, which of course, as with each of us, provides ample opportunity for Him to work. Sarah’s story is not of her triumph, but of God’s. Her story is living proof of God’s redemption, His sovereignty and miracle-working.
Like Sarah, I want to be obedient to God’s plan. I don’t just say “yes” to the things He calls me to do, I get excited about them. Fired up. A little too fired up. Because then, “fired up” becomes restless. Restless becomes impatient. Why should I wait for Him to move? Why can’t I just solve the problem myself? And just like that, I begin trading God’s plans for my plans, forfeiting the fullness of His promises for my good intentions gone wrong.
Sarai, too, grew tired of waiting for God to carry out His plan. Blaming Him for the delay, Sarai decided, as we all so often do, to take matters into her own hands:
“The Lord has kept me from having children… perhaps I can build a family….” (Genesis 16:2, NIV)
This distrust for God’s plan and His timing, this need to take control, this manipulation of circumstances to fit our “needs” instead of His will—it is a tried and true recipe for disaster.
We may persuade others to come along in our plan instead of His. (Genesis 16:2)
We may blame everyone else for the problems that came from our own lack of faith, manipulation and insecurity. (Genesis 16:5)
We may turn from loving, trusting, faithful followers into envious and abusive schemers. (Genesis 16:6)
But then, despite our sin, comes the best part of the story. God changes everything. And more importantly, He changes us.
Though our failure to trust God’s promises makes a huge mess of things, His mercy sees us through. He looks beyond our past mistakes and present faults and redeems them for His glory. In love and mercy, He scoops us up, reclaims us as His own and gives us a new identity in Him. He takes us from Sarai, the self-made noblewoman, to Sarah, His chosen princess (Genesis 17:15-17).
Even spiritually transformed women will have imperfect faith; we will have moments of distrust and hesitation. Like Sarah, there will be times when God’s glory is right outside our door, yet we’ll choose to stay inside the tent. There will be days when we hear the clear promises of God and laugh in disbelief (Genesis 18:9-12).
Still, our heavenly Father will respond. He will wait with us and sustain us. He will turn our restlessness into rest in Him. He who has already put miracles in motion in your life will be faithful to see them through (Philippians 1:6).
Well into her nineties, Sarah became a mother. She brought forth the seed that would ultimately lead to Christ, and she leaves us a legacy of faith that’s imperfect, but real.
Sarah learned, and we get to learn alongside her, that nothing—no matter how improbable, impossible or incredible—nothing is too hard for the Lord.
Sarah Matheny is an ever-growing, ever-changing gal, laughing and living in the Pacific Northwest. One-time attorney, food blogger, and author, all-the-time wife and mom to three wild-eyed, spunky girly girls, she’s passionate about her family, her friends and growing in her walk with Christ as He dishes up an always unpredictable, but totally delicious life.