Portraits of Grace: Sarai
Scripture: Genesis 16:1-6
Portraits of Grace, Sarai
How do you feel about waiting? Personally, I do not like to wait. But what about you, how do you do with waiting. Here a multiple choice question to help you answer that question.
You are in line at grocery checkout counter. The person in front of you is having an extended conversation with the check-out clerk. Which best describes you? A: You’re happy. You observe these 2 people are developing a connection. You think about forming a small group—with you, the other customer and the clerk. B: You think of things that you’d like to say to the check-out clerk. Perhaps you can invite him to a church service. Or, if you have little more flare for the dramatic C: You tell the customer in front of you’re on your way to the doctor because you have a high contagious disease, hoping that’ll get them moving.
Waiting is hard.
We’re in Week 3 of a sermon series called Portraits of Grace. We’ve been looking at people from the OT who God called to carry out his work even though they we’re deeply flawed. The point of the series is not simply to fill our minds with more Bible information, but rather to see ourselves in the lives of these people, to see their deep, deep need for God’s grace and forgiveness and to see our equally deep need for his grace & forgiveness. I’m hoping that all of us can see that if God can extend his grace to these people and use them mightily, he’s equally able to extend that grace to you and me to carry out his work.
Today, we’re looking at Sarai. Later in her life, God renamed her Sarah. Sarai was the wife of Abraham. Sarai was reportedly a very beautiful woman who as the wife of Abraham was in a very important position in God’s plan. But Sarai was placed in a position where she needed to wait and trusting of God, but waiting is never easy. PRAY
Why was Sarai so important? The answer goes back to a promise God gave to Abraham.
Gn. 14:4-6, But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus….4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
God’s word was that Abraham’s decendants would be a great nation, as numerous as the stars in the sky and Sarai, as his wife, was to be the mother of what would come to be known as the nation of Israel, BUT she was without child and she was already 60-some years old.
God gave a great and specific promise to Abraham and Sarai, but attached to that promise were the unspoken words, “…but you’re going to have to wait. You are going to have to trust in my Word, my goodness and my timing.”
God asks the same of you and me. There are certain parts of our lives where we know God’s will. For example, I know God calls me to love my neighbor. Even though my neighbor is a thorny one, I know I need to love and serve him. I know that God calls me to forgive. Yeah, I know that, but how many times? Unendingly! I know that God calls me to avoid over-indulgence in anything, because this leads to me creating a false-god that controls my life.
But there other parts of life that are not as clear and often these parts are MUCH BIGGER. Lord, I know you’re going to provide for me, but i need a job. Is the radiation and chemo going to work? I’ve worked so hard to save my marriage, but all my efforts seem in vain. Lord, heal my child. These are tough and they all entail waiting and trusting.
What is the hard thing in your life where you need to trust in God’s goodness and God’s plan? What in your life seems out of your control and is beckoning you to trust in God and wait on him?
For Sarai one year turns into 2 turns into 3…4…5…6…7…8..9..10. HOW LONG! Sarai fell into temptation of believing the silence of God gave her permission to improvise, for her to take control back and implement her plan according to her timeline.
Gn 16:1-4a, Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
Sarai hatched a plan to help God out. The brilliant idea….her husband, Abraham, needed a second wife, her servant, Hagar. Sarai used her power over her female servant, who was probably a teenager, forcing her to take this 80 year old man as her husband....
What was the result? Peace and tranquility. Everything was now going to be perfect. NOT! Gn. 16:4b-5, When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
Sarai settled for second best, her plan. And what was second best? Disobedience toward God. Conflict with her husband. War in her household: More envy, more jealousy, more hatred, more suffering. When we stop trusting in God, which can involve waiting, we get the opposite of the peace we want.
43 times In the OT people are command “Wait on the Lord.” Ps. 27:14, Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Waiting on God seems to be a part of a healthy life of faith. In the Book of James we here these words encouraging us to be patience. James 5:7-8, Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring….8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage….
Why does God make us wait?
I certainly don’t understand all of this and I DO NOT have all the answers, but here are a few points to remember:
What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we’re waiting for. God is working overtime shaping, sharpening and strengthening.
Secondly, waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means being activity under God’s command and a readiness to act when given the green light.. Waiting may involve being asked to knock on many doors, until God opens the right door. What I’ve found when I’ve been asked to knock on many doors is that when God open the right door, I had peace in walking through that door.
Third, we need to know that God’s word and his promises are certain. We can trust them. We can stake our lives on them. One promise he made to Abraham was that through his descendents, that is, through the children of Sarai, he was going to bless all nations. It took a lot of waiting, around 1,500 years, but God fulfilled that promise. That descendent who would bless all people of every nation was Jesus. The blessing that God desires to extend to all people is forgiveness.