I Would Have Laughed, Too, Sarah.

Last Mother’s Day, I heard a lesson on Biblical mothers of the faith.  The teacher spoke about Jochebed, Sarah, Hannah, Mary, and Eunice.  But then he questioned whether or not Sarah deserved a place in that group because she doubted, referring to the story in Genesis.

“And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.  And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind them.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age, and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?  And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?  Is anything too hard for the Lord?  At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”  Genesis 18:10-14.

When I heard those words, I felt defensive on Sarah’s behalf and heartily disagreed.  Sarah is one of my heroes.  She’s been my example!  Although I didn’t actually speak up verbally, I asked confidently to myself, “Which of those mothers made it to the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11?  Only Sarah.”  I rest my case.

Who wouldn’t have doubted or laughed by age 90?  Haven’t we done so ourselves at age 27, 30, 35, or 42?

She probably approached each month with faith, but then when that menstrual cycle started, or when she no longer had a cycle, doubt crept in.  Time and time again, month after month, year after year, nothing.  Then there is a glimmer of hope – a delayed period, a twinge of nausea, some other “sign” and we want to believe again.  Could it be?

No, your period starts right after you take your pregnancy test, and your nausea came from a stomach bug.  If you don’t cry, you just laugh at yourself and say that’s what you get for believing, hoping.  I’m not falling for that again.  So who can blame her?  I would have laughed, too, Sarah.

Thankfully, we have Sarah’s story to learn from – how she overcame her doubts and insecurity to become a hero of faith in the God of great faithfulness.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.  Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.”  Hebrews 11:1, 11-12

Matthew Henry gives us insight into her faith; faith we can relate to as well as learn from.

The difficulties of her faith:  Sarah was only human, just like us.  She didn’t believe; she laughed at the promise, as impossible to be made good.  Sarah also went out of the way of her duty through unbelief by giving her handmaid to Abraham.  Lastly, she focused on the great improbability – the fact that a child was promised when she was past age – 90!

The actings of her faith: Sarah’s unbelief was pardoned and forgotten.  Her faith prevailed and is recorded for us to see – for our example and for our hope.  She judged him faithful who had promised.  She received the promise as the promise of God; and being convinced of that, she truly judged he both could and would perform it, how impossible it might seem to reason; for the faithfulness of God will not suffer him to deceive his people.

The fruit and reward of her faith: She received strength to conceive seed.  The strength of nature, as well as grace, is from God: he can make the barren soul fruitful as well as the barren womb.  Sarah was delivered of a child, a child of the promise, and comfort of his parents’ advanced years, and the hope of future ages.  From them, by this son, sprang a great, powerful and renowned nation, above all the rest in the world; and a nation of saints, the peculiar church and people of God, and which was the highest honor and reward of all, of these, according to the flesh, the Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed forevermore.

Advertisements

One Day Closer

We enjoy counting down the days to a special occasion or exciting event that is going to happen in our lives, don’t we?  I counted down the days until my wedding day and always count down the days until vacation or Christmas.  It brings a lot of excitement and anticipation.

We can also look for the coming of something special even though we don’t know when it’s coming – as in the second coming of Jesus Christ.  The Bible says we don’t know the day or the hour, but we should be ready (Matthew 24:36-44).

In my Streams in the Desert journal, the entry for January 19th says prayers remaining unanswered mean the moment of the answer is so much nearer.  I believed God had not said “no” to my prayers for a baby; He was saying “not yet” or “wait.”  Since our prayers had remained unanswered for so long, it must really be so much nearer!

In my journal, I had written in 2004 that I was trying to clean up my office at work.  I started clearing out files and junk in anticipation of when I would quit work to stay home with my baby.  Although I didn’t know the date, I knew it was one day closer than yesterday!  I adopted that as my new motto – “One Day Closer”.  When rereading that entry a year later in 2005, I just had to smile and say, “I’m not just one day closer, I’m one year closer!”  Still hopeful, too.  In 2006, it was exciting to write a p.s. by that entry – I was pregnant and only had about 28 days left until the anticipated day of my baby’s birth.  I didn’t realize it when I wrote that entry I was actually 2 days closer instead of 28 because he arrived four weeks early!

“Prayer which takes the fact that past prayers have not been answered as a reason for languor, has already ceased to be the prayer of faith.  To the prayer of faith the fact that prayers remain unanswered is only evidence that the moment of the answer is so much nearer.  From first to last, the lessons and examples of our Lord all tell us that prayer which cannot persevere and urge its plea importunately, and renew, and renew itself again, and gather strength from every past petition, is not the prayer that will prevail.”  William Arthur, Streams in the Desert, January 19th.

Is God Waiting On You?

The journey of infertility revolves around a lot of waiting, waiting, and more waiting.  We can grow impatient.  We want to hurry up and get on with the rest of our plans.  We beg the Lord to answer our prayers – now!  But as J.R. Miller tells us in Streams in the Desert, January 26th, “God often waits for us.  While we miss much good through not waiting for God, we also miss much through over-waiting.  There are times when our strength is to sit still, but there are also times we need to go forward with a firm step.  There are many divine promises which are conditioned upon the beginning of some action on our part.”  This is faith in action.

We can over-wait by just sitting back and doing nothing.  I often thought that option would be easier on me!  When I started worrying about the cost of fertility treatments and not knowing if I could go through much more of this emotionally, I just wanted to wait and wish for something to happen.  God could have unexpectedly opened my womb, and I did pray for that, however, Jill Baughan recommends in her book, A Hope Deferred, that the infertile couple do something.  Have a plan.  Do you want to adopt?  Find out all you can about adoption.  Is it your desire not just to have a baby but also to experience pregnancy?  Make a list of your options considering the cause of your infertility, your age, your emotional reserves, and the size of your savings account.

Don’t sit at a crossroad.  Baughan quoted Merle Bombardieri stating, “the worst thing a couple can do is float into a ‘non-decision,’ where they evolve into child-free living, not by choosing it, but by letting it choose them; or by making a non-decision to agonize, setting no goals.”  If you choose not to decide, then you are deciding not to choose.  God wants us to move forward.  He may lead in different paths, but He doesn’t intend for us to give up.  Pray, seek spiritual counsel, and exercise your faith by moving forward.  God is waiting to bless.

“Sunshine of Today” by Legacy Five

I’ve heard it said that a day of worry

is rougher than a week of working hard.

I’ve looked too long at what concerns me

instead of just looking at who You are.

I’m going to start trusting in Your timing

and trusting in Your love

Because as long as my life is in Your hands,

I’m going to be taken care of.

………………………………………………

You tell me to cast my cares upon You

and everything I do I always see

even before I ask You, Jesus,

You know what I need

Because You care for me.

There’s so much that You’ve shown me

lately, reminding me again,

It’s an old, old truth that worry ends

where trusting You begins.

…………………………………………………..

No more letting the clouds of tomorrow

steal the sunshine of today.

No more living in fear and sorrow

for what hasn’t come my way.

No more looking for trouble to borrow,

gonna face what comes with faith.

No more letting the clouds of tomorrow

steal the sunshine of today.

From Heroes of the Faith Album, 2001

Everything Is Working Out For Good

When crises form like thunderclouds

and terror sharp as lightning crowds

out faith in God’s control.

I hear his gentle voice,

“My precious child, rejoice,

and trust the jagged parts to make a whole.

You cannot see my sovereign grace

arranging everything in place.

My plan cannot be understood

by analyzing, so you must

have faith, rejoice, and trust

everything is working out for good.”

Author Unknown

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,  to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

I read this poem in a Christian magazine in 1992, memorized it and have never forgotten it.  If it listed an author, I am sorry I did not write it down.  It is based on Romans 8:28.  What assurance we can have in God!

Faith-Tester

An excerpt from Streams in the Desert, January 4th, says, “You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings.  God gives us the promise in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the test seems to contradict all that He has spoken.  It is then that faith wins its crown.  That is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry,’I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me.'”

My laparoscopy was scheduled for July 30, 2000.  At my first appointment, my specialist had done an ultrasound and said some things needed to be checked out, including possibly endometriosis.  I had heard that word once before.  Since I didn’t really know what it was all about, I thought nothing of it.  The Lord showed me Psalm 113:9 exactly one week before my outpatient surgery, and I was filled with promise!

Just a short week later, my spirits were dealt the most devastating blow.  I woke up from the laparoscopy, and the first words I asked my husband were, “Do I have endometriosis?”  He said, “Yes.”  I asked, “How bad is it?”  He quietly said, “Pretty bad.”  I just cried silently with tears flowing down my face.  My parents were in the room, too.  I asked my husband to pray for me right then.  He always words good, thoughtful prayers, but I honestly don’t remember what he said and I don’t even think it comforted me too much.  I was just devastated and didn’t expect to hear that I had endometriosis.  I thought at that point I would never get pregnant.

My mom chided me gently and reminded me of the verse God gave me just a week earlier.  She said not to lose faith in that promise just because of what the doctor found.  That comforted me somewhat and reassured me that God was still in control.

After I got home from the hospital, I remember reading about endometriosis in a book my friend loaned me on infertility.  It said if endometriosis is found in early stages, there was still a good chance you could conceive.  I called my doctor the next day and asked her what stage she considered my endometriosis, and she said it was Severe – Stage IV.  What another blow!  I had read in that book that people with Stage IV endometriosis had a very slim chance of conceiving.

Mom was right.  This was one of my tests of faith.