15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[e] do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[f] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
I can't imagine how hard it was for Abraham and Sarah. Well, maybe it wasn't so bad. I mean, they were rich, good looking, powerful... But they were still waiting for a promise from the Lord. For a REALLY long time.
I feel for Sarah, I really do. She lives in a time where women gain value through giving birth. Even though she is beautiful (beautiful enough for leaders of other countries to take her away), she is childless. She is incomplete as a woman. And even though she has a godly husband, he is a husband who fears her beauty, instead of becoming inspired to protect it. In the end it was God protecting her when she was abandoned by Abram.
Yes, of course her heart would turn bitter and cynical. The thing she must want the most, the thing that has seemly been promised to her years ago, never came. Now she is too old to have children. She is a failure. Dare she even hope for it anymore? How much easier to shut away your heart, and assume that it won't come true.
I feel for Sarah, because my heart is the same. Only I'm not even near 90 yet.
I wonder if her heart was able to laugh with joy after Issac was born, instead of bitterness...
It's so easy for me to get caught up in what I don't have yet. It's easy for me to look at the past records and think it will always be that way. My heart turns bitter, and when someone suggests hope for me, the laughter contains no joy.
How many times have I shot down other's encouraging words, because my bitter heart did not want to be tortured by "false" hope?
It's hard for me, because I can't say that I have "heard" a direct promise from God to me about my life. Maybe if I had one, then I would be able to cling to that and believe. But then again, I would probably doubt it over and over.
My faith is not enough. I do not trust God with my heart. I do not trust God with my future. I look at my past, and my present, and I distrust what God has planned for me. I resign myself to following God, knowing that of course it will be "good," but what is "good" for me is not always "fun" or what I want. I follow because there is nothing else for me to do. But I do not follow with joy or hope.
When I teach, I love it when kids are learning because they like learning. They are having fun, they experiment with the things they are learning. Class is a joy for me too. But many kids are there because they have to be. Those classes are not so fun. It's like pulling teeth. No matter how hard I try to make class fun and interesting, if the kid is only doing it because they have to, it's no fun. There is no joy, only frustratingly slow progress.
Both kinds of kids learn, but only one kind enjoys it. The teacher is the same. Only the children's attitudes are different.
When God changed Sarai's name, He gave her a symbolic new start. My notes in my Bible say that both names mean "princess." When I think about it, I guess there are two kinds of princesses. The first, is the spoiled rich-girl kind. You know, the ones that only think of themselves. The second is the elegant, kind, responsible princesses. The ones who are rescued and live happily ever after. Did the transformation of Sarai's name to Sarah also give her a transformation of heart?
I also want to transform my heart. I want to find hope in the future instead of bitter laughter. I want to believe in the possibilities, instead of giving up, believing that I am not worthy of receiving such things. But most of all, I want to be a person who believes without doubting the Goodness of God's heart and intentions toward me. When God tells us to "be joyful always" maybe He is telling us the secret to having "life to the full."
So now, I'm trying to remind myself of these things when the doubts and the negative voices assail me.
Maybe someday I'll get a new name too.