Summary: Sermon explores Sarah's discouragements during her faith journey, then offers insights on how to deal with disappointment.
Disappointment! How well do you handle it? What do you do when your hopes and dreams get shattered? What do you do when you throw your heart into something; and then it fails? How do you process a disappointment and come out on the other side unscathed?
I want to begin, this morning, by looking at Disappointment in Sarah’s life. After she is briefly introduced as Abraham’s wife, the disappointment is stated in these simple terms. Genesis 11:30, “But Sarahi was barren; she had no child.”i Those are very easy words for us to read. We can never fully know the pain that someone is experiencing because of such events in their lives. We can have compassion toward the person, because we have our own pain to deal with. But I think that was a heavy experience for Sarah to bear. I can imagine her wedding day. I can imagine the high hopes that filled her heart—hopes of a home filled with laughter; scenes of little ones running about the house playing their games; the expectation of a hug and the words, “Goodnight Mommy.” But none of that had happened by the end of Geneses 11.
Then a wonderful thing did happen. God spoke to Sarah’s husband and gave them a promise—a promise that they would become a great nation—a promise of offspring. Imagine the joy that flooded Sarah’s heart when Abraham gave her the news. This is what she had been praying for. This would be the turning point of her life. God would heal her barrenness. She would have a child! I want you to feel the ups and downs Sarah experienced, because we feel them in our own disappointments. According to Webster’s dictionary, disappointment is the failure to meet an expectation.ii Disappointment is the difference between what is and what was hoped for. Sarah’s hopes are sky high in Genesis 12.
Now with that promise, God gave a command. They were to leave the comfort of their home town, Ur, and strike out on a journey into a new land. Going into the unknown usually had two sides to it. On the one hand, it can be exciting to do something new. On the other hand, it can be a bit scary, as well. Travel was not near as safe as it is for you and me. You pretty much had to defend yourself against terrorists and robbers. You are now going into other people’s turf. The welcoming committee may turn out to be a lynch party.
Leaving the security of home is usually harder for the woman than the man. Travel via camel was without air conditioning and probably pretty bumpy. But Sarah did what needed to be done. She stood by her man and off to Canaan land they went.
In order to understand Sarah’s emotional state later in the story, we must know this move was an act of faith and obedience. This is Abraham and Sarah doing the will of God as fully as they knew how to do it. In the first part of Genesis 12 they are building altars to the Lord and worshipping God as their first priority. These are people who are serving the Lord with all they’ve got.
In about the middle of Genesis 12 they hit a problem. Perhaps it’s their first disappointment after this great promise from God. Instead of the land flowing with milk and honey, there is a severe famine in the land. Why would God lead this precious couple into the middle of a draught and famine? I won’t try to answer that right now; but I will say this, the famine was probably a big disappointment. That’s OK; Abraham and Sarah came up with a solution to the problem. They made their way into Egypt where there were provisions.iii However, that led to another problem. We usually look at this from Abraham’s standpoint. But let’s see it from Sarah’s perspective. As they are approaching Egypt, her husband tells her to lie about being his wife. Now that’s an awkward place to be in. On the one hand, she is to be faithful to her husband; but, on the other hand, she cannot say that she already has a husband. And all of that is on her. It is a stressful situation.
This journey is already turning out different than she thought it would be. Since They were obeying when they left Ur, surely it will be an easy journey. No, there is famine; and now she has to deal with the advances of the Egyptians. Well that episode concluded with God sending a plague on Pharaoh and him telling Abraham and Sarah to leave.
Back in Canaan, it doesn’t get much better. Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen get into a big fight; and that conflict has to be resolved. Later, Lot gets captured by an enemy force and Abraham has to fight a battle to get him free. Then you wonder if those kings Abraham defeated are going to retaliate. I’m just saying, the journey had its snags along the way. And God speaks to Abraham and gives him assurances during these trials. But Sarah has to get all that second hand. She has to get the assurances from Abraham. Is anybody getting some sympathy for Sarah?