A look at Sarah's life wouldn't be complete until we take a closer look at the whole Hagar issue. Who is Hagar you might ask (and you might also be wondering why did her mother give her such an ugly name but I can't help you with that one)?
Hagar was Sarah's Egyptian maid. In Genesis 16 it starts with this verse, "Now Sarai, Abrams' wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar."
You just know that with a start like that, trouble is brewing and the next verse bears that out. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai."
Now before you accuse Sarah of a lack of faith, it's important to know that most commentaries say that she didn't just grow impatient with the wait. She had gone through menopause, and could no longer physically bear children.
Based on the physical evidence, Sarah came to the conclusion that her biological clock had ticked its last tock. She was past the age of childbearing, and so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Of course, by doing this, she didn't just affect herself and Abraham, but also Hagar and Ishmael, the child Hagar eventually had by Abraham.
What's even MORE interesting is if you read the chapter before this one. The whole of chapter 15 is taken up with God making a covenant with Abraham, promising him many descendants.
Abraham even brings up the fact that he and Sarah have no children and since they are getting up there in age, the likelihood of that happening seems less and less. God tells Abraham very clearly that HE will give Abraham descendants that are his blood children.
This leaves us with the question why in the world would Abraham go along with Sarah's scheme after this intense interlude where God Himself made a covenant (which Abraham would have realized was serious stuff)?
The answer is in verse 2 - "And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai." If these words sound familiar, that's because they are.
If you remember back when we were talking about Eve, when God told Adam his portion of the curse, He explained why, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife." As in - you listened to your wife and not Me!
Can't you just see Sarah persuading Abraham. "Well, God did say you would have a child of your own blood, but did He specifically say it was ME you'd have the child with? Be reasonable - I'm past the age of childbearing - how would I even get pregnant at this point when I was never fertile in my young years? This is the only way Abram - it's not against what God told you, is it?"
Obviously, I have no idea what Sarah said to Abraham, but he went along with her scheme. The result is the Middle East mess we have today - the descendants of Abraham still are feuding today with no end in sight.
Before we are too quick to criticize Sarah, though, how many times have YOU decided God needed a little help when all circumstances seemed to point that things were hopeless and it was up to you to fix them?
I know - I'm guilty too.
The other thing that hit me about this part of the story is that we DO have influence with our husbands. I remember Beth Moore once saying that while women don't have the authority in the home, they have the influence.
There's a reason for the saying, "Behind every great man is a great woman." So, what kind of influence am I having with my husband? Am I encouraging him to follow God wholeheartedly or am I instead persuading him in a different direction - particularly if it makes my life easier? This story makes me very aware that I need to use my influence prayerfully and with wisdom - not throw it around casually.
The final lesson I learn from this part of the story is that sometimes, if allow ourselves to get to the point where what we so desperately want makes us willing to do anything to get it, we end up with something that ends up hurting us.
How many women have insisted on a relationship; married and then been miserable? How many women, once married, have destroyed that marriage in the quest to have a baby? Anything that is raised to the status of an idol in our lives has the power to hurt us badly. Idols demand sacrifice but offer no grace in return.
Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham and it says he took her as his wife. So now, after all these years, Sarah has to share Abraham. Even if she was probably only a concubine, Hagar was now clearly more than just a maid. She had gained a bit of status.
Then Hagar did end up getting pregnant which gave her even more status - after all Sarah couldn't have children and the number of children, particularly sons, a woman could produce gave her worth, value and status in that ancient culture.
Now, the Bible says, Hagar despised her mistress - the original word means that she looked at her as trifling or inferior.
Sarah just wanted a baby, but by trying to manipulate the circumstances, what she ended up with was a mess.
I don't know what Hagar and Sarah's relationship was before this whole thing went down, but afterwards there seemed to be a continuous strain - even after Sarah had her own child, Isaac.
It's interesting to me that even though Sarah inserted her free will and jumped way ahead of God's plan, He still carried it out. God said He would give Abraham descendants and He meant for them to come from Sarah and that's what happened.
It's sort of comforting to me to know that even if I mess up - even if it is in a big way - I can't thwart God's plans. Yes, I have to live with the consequences of my choices - just like Sarah had to deal with the problem she created for a long time - but God loves us so much and is so merciful that He works out His plans in our lives anyway.
Despite her big mess up, Sarah still gets a mention in the Biblical faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11:11, "By faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive,even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised."
I guess Sarah finally realized that God's promises were more reliable than her solutions.
~ Blessings, Bronte