Faith Filled Stories: Abraham & Sarah
When one thinks that hope is gone and that nothing can come of a dire situation, God not only shows up, He often chooses to do so in a profound and noticeable way.
Did you know that Abraham was 75 when he first received the promise of an offspring? That would have made Sarah 65, which means that she could have easily been passed the point of child bearing years by then!
As I started reading through Abram and Sarai’s story to write this post, I was intrigued by what God had revealed to me. While reading Genesis 11 and 12, Abram received God’s promise for the first time after his father Terah passed away. It says that “Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people he had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 12:4-5)
When they arrived, the Lord told Abram again that He would give that land to his offspring. It says that Abram built an altar to the Lord there. There was no questioning the promises and instructions. He listened, believed, and obeyed the Lord. Was it because he considered Lot an offspring? Lot’s father, Abram’s brother, died young, and Lot became Abram’s responsibility. Were Abram and Sarai content to have their nephew as an adopted child? Did they think that Lot would carry on their legacy? It doesn’t talk about their struggle with being infertile yet, so this is something that I would guess at this point.
God was faithful to His promise and Abram was blessed in abundance! He gained so much that the land could no longer support both Abram and Lot living together, so they had to part ways. Lot chose one way and Abram another. God again came to Abram to present him with the promises that He would instill in Abram’s life and his offspring. Again, Abram built an altar in surrender and submission to the Lord, showing his faith.
However, parting ways showed the difference of characters for Lot and Abram. Lot fell into a deeply sinful place, got kidnapped, and eventually had to evacuate before the whole town was destroyed. Abram on the other hand, was obedient, lived in a lush land, and had encounters both in person and by vision with the Lord.
Abram rescuing Lot from the kidnapping was the last time that Scripture mentioned Abram and Lot seeing each other. It referenced later that Abraham pleaded with the Lord to save anyone righteous from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. However, it doesn’t give reference to Abram seeing Lot or communicating after that. Therefore, it makes me wonder if Lot and Abram’s relationship was severed after Abram rescued Lot from the kings that exiled him.
It was also at the point of Lot’s rescue that Abram first questioned the Lord about His promise of an offspring. This is somewhere between the ages of 75 and 86 (when he bore Ishmael). Suddenly the promise got blurred, human doubt took over, and Sarai gave her slave over to bear a child instead of believing that God will do it through her. Can you blame her though? She would have been 76 when the Ishmael was born. Her child bearing years would have definitely ended that this point.
Have you felt that God has given you a promise of a child? Have you wrestled with trying to figure out what His plan is for you; to keep pursuing avenues for you to have children on your own or to adopt? How does God want you to pursue this, if at all? Delayed hope can easily allow doubt and confusion to creep in, regardless if you feel like you have a promise or not. Day-to-day life, time passing by, and watching all of the families around you grow can weigh heavy on your heart. It can play with your emotions and leave you questioning what you have felt, heard, and believed from the Lord.
It would be another 13 years after Ishmael’s birth that God would remind Abram (now Abraham) about the promise of offspring and His eternal covenant promises. This is the first time that God mentioned that the child would indeed come from Sarai (now named Sarah). There was no question that the promises would come through a son of their own.
This story shows us that God helps us along the way. There was a 25 year gap between Abraham and Sarah’s promise and the long awaited birth of their son. It seemed like all odds were against the promise coming true. Yet God, in His infinite love and grace, gave them people to love and care for, blessings of provision, and respect from nations surrounding them while they waited. He gave them Lot to raise. They had Ishmael to focus on when Lot was gone. Then, the time came when their own treasured son was born.
When one thinks that hope is gone and that nothing can come of a dire situation, God not only shows up, He often chooses to do so in a profound and noticeable way. God chose to show His sense of humour in this story. Abraham saw the loss of a relationship with Lot. He saw the hardship of raising his son Ishmael. So, when God reiterated the promise yet again when Abraham was 99, it says that Abraham laughed to himself. God then instructed Abraham that he was to name his son Isaac, which means ‘He laughs’! Sarah also laughed to herself when she overheard that she was still going to bear a son. This laughter was because she questioned if what God said could be true. In God’s humour, He decided to mark their child’s legacy with laughter. When Sarah did give birth to Isaac, she said, “’God has made me laugh, and everyone who hears will laugh with me’. She also said, ‘Who would have told Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne a son for him in his old age’” (Genesis 21:6).
The witness of God’s miracles can leave us in shock of how awesome and powerful He is. It can leave us in laughter at the amazement of what He can do. It can remind us of how much He does love us and how He fulfills the promises He has given to us.
Both Abraham and Sarah are recorded for their great faith among others in the ‘Hall of Faith’ in Hebrews 11:11-12. In verse 13, it reads that, “These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.”
Abraham and Sarah were able to see the beginnings of the promises God gave them. They had great possessions, they were living in the land that would someday be known as Israel, and they finally had the promised son.