Friday, July 3, 2015

All Things New: Sarah, the Unhoped-for Road, Part 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

In all of Abraham's story, Sarai/Sarah is a secondary character.

She left Haran with Abram, traipsed with him through Canaan to Egypt, where she went along with Abram's story that she was just his sister, which, according to Genesis 20:13, was the story they presented regularly.  She must have been incredibly beautiful; even as an elderly woman her beauty captured the eyes of foreign kings.  But it may have been more than just her beauty that caught their eye; in that time, alliances were often formed via marriage.  Kings married into each others' families  as a way to reinforce treaties and agreements...blood being thicker than ink and all.  So the kings who took Sarai/Sarah into their harems may not have been simply infatuated by her, although her beauty is mentioned as a factor,  but they may also have been making an alliance with Abram/Abraham.

By our standards, this is an outrageous situation, a great failure on Abram's/Abraham's part to protect and cover his wife.   How could he have trusted God so little here, when he trusted Him with so much elsewhere?  But Sarai/Sarah did not betray her husband. God stood guard over her and protected her and turned the situation around so that Abram/Abraham even gained wealth as a result of the whole deal.

She endured much for the sake of her husband.

And day he returned from a prayer retreat, dazzled.  He spoke of covenant and visions and smoking pots and God's promise that, even in his mid eighties, God was going to bless him and make him a father of a son.

Sarai, well past the age of childbearing herself, cannot have thought for even a moment that she would be the child's mother. She is not mentioned in Genesis 15.  What part did she have in Abram's promise...after all the years of moving around and presenting herself as his sister to make him less of a threat to those around them?  Would she have to send her husband to the bed of a second wife or concubine...or die altogether...for Abram to even have an opportunity to be a father?

How long did it take her to come to the conclusion that her only chance of having any part in the promise was to offer her maid Hagar as a surrogate mother?  How much did it cost her emotionally to go to her husband and say, 'Since God has prevented me from having children, I have a suggestion....'

Now, in that time, what she suggested was perfectly acceptable.  Common.  And, you know, Abram may not have agreed right away; the narrative does not include much of a time frame.  Eventually, however, he did.

There's no indication that they ever asked God for His direction in their planning.

I think she knew, when she first saw Hagar's smirk of superiority once her pregnancy was confirmed, that they'd made a mistake.   There was no joy in the family that the promise was manifesting.  Instead, petty jealousies and accusations began to multiply.  Hagar, who had to have been Sarai's closest companion and confidante, now despised Sarai.  Sarai blamed Abram.  Abram refused to act on behalf of his wife.  Sarai, no doubt feeling betrayed by her best friend, her husband and even her God, mistreated Hagar.  Hagar ran away.

You can tell the root of a thing by its fruit.    And this fruit was turning out to be both bitter and sour.

Hagar returned to Sarai, subdued for a time after her supernatural encounter, but the damage was done.  Whatever their relationship had been before, the trust was broken. They now were rivals.

You know, in a world of men, it had to be painful to Sarai to lose that relationship with her closest female companion. There is no enmity so bitter as that where true friendship has been broken.  And Hagar had both a son...Abram's joy and delight and, so far as they all understood, the promise fulfilled..and a supernatural visit from the angel of God.  Sarai...all Sarai had was the responsibility of running Abram's household.  She had no word from God, no assurance on any account that she was part of the promise.  All her attempts to be included had turned to ashes in her hands.  What hope did she have?  There was nothing left to hope for.

For thirteen years, Sarai lived with that.  Then Abram had another encounter with God.

There is no situation so bleak as the one taken at face value.  Even when there is no visible evidence of God's plan, His plan is still in place.  The promise is still coming.  God will not hold back what He  has spoken, even if we give up looking for it.

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