You remember Sarah – wife of Abraham – (Genesis 11:27 – 23:20). God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. So they waited… and trusted…and waited…. and waited for, oh I would guess around 30 years or so, while all around them, their friends, neighbors, servants, and brothers were bearing sons and daughters and, later, grandchildren. It appeared that all Sarah was able to bear was great shame, enduring the inevitable whispers, the tsk tsking, the giggles behind her back.
Then, what I think happened was that Sarah found that her bones began to take longer to wake up in the morning than the rest of her did. Any extra exertion out of the ordinary left her with aching muscles and fatigue. Bruises took longer to heal and hurt more. Her ankles and thumb joints, especially, ached constantly throughout the day as she went about her work. Close-up work, such as sewing, grew out of focus and became nearly impossible. Her internal thermostat ceased to exist and when she finally found sleep between the hot and cold flashes, it was plagued with nightmares; dark images that startled her awake, leaving her with her heart pounding with fear. She started having trouble concentrating for any extended length of time. She found herself remembering very clearly her childhood friends, her wedding day, the day she and her husband left Ur, but had to struggle to hold onto the names of her current neighbors and acquaintances. Smooth, supple parts of her body began to sag and droop and the waistband of her garments grew tight around a belly that took on the appearance of a bloated bag of lumpy curds and whey. Dark purple veins stood out on her ever weakening legs. Strands of white started to streak though her dark braids. She wondered why everyone around her had started mumbling, forcing her to ask them to repeat almost everything.
And finally, she stopped having periods. It would have seemed obvious to her that she and old Abe had misunderstood the Promise of a son. She came face to face with the realization that she had fewer years ahead of her than behind her. She thought that the one thing she had wanted to accomplish in her life was now hopelessly out of reach. No doubt there had been times over the years when her cycle had been late, or other symptoms appeared that made them think she had conceived, but each time the hopes were dashed, no child was on the way. Ever. And each of those times she would have counted it against herself as a failure. Maybe she even wondered, “Isn’t there some kind of a limit on the number of times one person can fail during a lifetime?!”
Enter: Hagar the Egyptian Maid. Sarah had to watch as Hagar easily accomplished in a very short time what she had been unable to achieve during a lifetime of trying. Can you blame her for getting a little grouchy?
What Sarah didn’t have that we do is 2 Corinthians 12:9 “For He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Eventually, God took Sarah’s greatest weakness and turned it into her greatest victory when she conceived at the age of 90 and gave birth. Sarah would have the last laugh, naming this miracle son Isaac which means “laughter.”
Don’t you just love happy endings?