Pregnant with Promise
We first meet Sarah and learn of her barrenness in Genesis 11. The conception of her son, Isaac, does not come until Genesis 21. The chapters in between represent 39 years of waiting. Today, a woman’s “success” is not measured by the fruitfulness of her womb, although infertility is painful for any couple longing for children. In Abraham’s day, an empty cradle was shameful. And then Sarah’s hopeful expectation became the silent cynical laugh heard by God. God hears the pain no one else does, including yours.
Because of famine in Canaan, Abraham fled to pagan Egypt. As a stranger in a land that did not honor God’s laws, his fear was understandable. He recognized that Sarah’s beauty would attract unwanted attention from the locals. His concern was not so much about her safety but more about his as her husband. If an Egyptian wanted her for his harem, he would have no problem killing Abraham. Posing as her brother made Abraham less of a threat.
Since Abraham had not had the benefit of marriage counseling that instructed him to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, even to the point of laying his life down, lying seemed logical. And over the years, the helpmeet wife of the Garden had become more of a slave wife, required to do as the master commanded. Many people today, men and women, would have a few unrepeatable words for Abraham.
Abraham devalued Sarah to save himself. But it would be hard for Sarah not to have thought less of herself anyway, living with the label of barren. Society’s expectation for her was fruitfulness. She had failed. After years of trying to get pregnant, what humiliation to offer her maid’s womb to Abraham. Only God could know the depth of her dissatisfaction, anger, rejection, loneliness and hopelessness.
And then Sarah was pregnant. She knew, Abraham knew and everyone knew that it was impossible for her to bear a child at her age. And yet it became evident as her abdomen protruded more and more. And then her mourning turned to joyful laughter as she cradled baby Isaac—her own sign and wonder, the promise of God.
Questions to Ponder: What longtime request has God granted in your life? What emotions did you experience when hoped-for became reality?
Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.Genesis 11:29-30
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.Genesis 21:1-2
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.2 Corinthians 1:20
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Mark 11:24