This week I forgot to babysit for a friend. I also forgot to go to my women’s Connect group. Totally forgot both. Not even a partial thought about it until it was too late. My Connect group didn’t mind but my friend was upset.
If you’re desperate enough to ask someone with 5 kids of their own to babysit for you, you’re desperate enough for a break, to get upset if it doesn’t come. I understood her pain.
I was very upset with myself. I’d dropped the ball. In fact, because I dropped that one, I then dropped all the balls in this parent, friend, wife, work, life juggling act. Little mistakes bouncing and rolling about everywhere.
I limped into church on Saturday night with my tail between my legs. I raised my hands to worship, in my mind I was saying, God I’ve lost it this week and he, in his quiet reassuring way said, “I know but none of your mistakes make any difference to me & I still think you’re wonderful.”
And then in the way that often happens the preacher spoke a message of faith just for me.
“Faith does not deny the truth in the natural, faith has a higher truth in the supernatural”. He talked about Abraham who made huge mistakes in the natural and yet was considered by God to be righteous. The Father of Faith.
So I went home to my bible and I re-read the story of Abraham and Sarah for some encouragement and I found myself, for the first time, noticing their sex life.
Amongst couples in the bible, in the area of persevering with sex, there is no couple where the testing of their sex life over time is hinted at quite like Abraham and Sarah’s. They went through such trials!
What I like, is that God himself calls Abraham righteous, and Sarah holy, so they must have pleased him. This is the kind of couple we can look up to. A couple who look to heaven no matter what things look like on earth. No matter what mistakes they’ve made.
1 Peter 3:5-7 says,
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Abraham and Sarah are Jewish royalty, the Father and Mother of the Jewish nation. They are greatly revered amongst the Jewish people for their love of God, faithfulness, kindness, hospitality and prophetic gifts. Everywhere they went, they told people to turn from idols to worship the one true God. They taught people how to live in peace and were a blessing to everyone they met.
I am going to call them Abraham and Sarah for the whole discussion even though they were Abram and Sarai for much of it. That doesn’t mean the significance of their name change right at the end when God said to Abraham he would have a child through Sarah wasn’t huge.
It was God breathing life into the two of them again. It was God changing their circumstances and their hearts. It was a complete recharge from the Holy Spirit.
It turned their lives around right when they needed it most, but the names are not a discussion for now except to say that we also need God to breathe life into our sex lives when we have been through the kinds of trials that Sarah and Abraham endured.
Like all of us, Sarah and Abraham were so much more than their sex lives but, when we look at them through that lens, their human struggle was enormous. It is no wonder they are called giants of faith.
Something we often overlook is that Abraham and Sarah both knew what being single was all about. Abraham was 55 when he married Sarah, she, being about 9 years younger, must have been around 46.
She was beautiful, intelligent, godly and on the shelf. He was the most eligible bachelor in town, 10th-generation-great grandson of Shem, (son of Noah).
Jewish tradition says Abraham spent much of his single life living with Noah and Shem, who each lived almost a thousand years, hearing the word of the Lord. How’s that for bible college!
There is also tradition that says Abraham lived much of his youth in hiding, following a prophecy about him that created fear in the king of Babylon, and like in the time of Moses and Jesus, babies were put to death.
So, perhaps there was a shortage of men at the time. Tradition about Sarah simply says she was one of the most beautiful women ever made.
Considering people were having kids in their 20s and 30s at the time, according to who begat whom, in the book of Genesis, theirs was a very late marriage. They knew what it was to be alone and in the spotlight.
They knew what it was to be surrounded by happy, childbearing couples. They knew what it was to wait with passionate patience for their spouse, as their youth disappeared, without compromising themselves or their faith.
When they married they were technically just shy of middle age since life expectancy was 120 at the time.
People were still living longer. Abraham was 58, when his ancestor Noah died at 950 and Noah’s son, Shem outlived Abraham by 208 years. In the end Abraham himself lived until 175 but he wasn’t to know at the age of 55.
Once married, Sarah and Abraham understood barrenness all too well.
Godly as they were, after 20 years of marriage Abraham and Sarah remained childless. Talk about being refined in the fire. I struggled after six months! I can’t imagine their grief, or their patience, or the strain it put on their sex life.
Then at seventy-five God promised Abraham decedents.
Genesis 12:1-3 says,
Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.
This would have been so uplifting and exciting, and at the same time upsetting and terrifying. Together they obeyed, separating from their family, leaving their support network, going through enemy territory to unknown places.
As is often the case, when they stepped out in faith towards the promise of God, they walked into immediate hardship; famine, hunger and further dislocation to Egypt.
Sarah was renowned not just for her inner beauty. She was stunning. Tradition says, next to her, other women looked like monkeys! She was not like the kids’ bibles we have that draw her as toothless!
It makes me think of a beautiful 50-year-old woman today, a famous celebrity or a supermodel but with such inner goodness and brightness, it makes her doubly attractive. These kinds of beautiful women don’t become ugly, even if they wrinkle up. Older men, and younger men still find them very attractive.
But her beauty was a source of grief, twice. In Egypt Sarah was torn out of the arms of her husband and forced to be the wife of the Egyptian King. In normal circumstances her husband would have been killed when she was abducted, but she saved Abraham, as he asked her to, by saying, “He is my brother.”
So, Abraham lived celibate, while Sarah was forced to live as a wife of the King as though she had no husband. It was a great honour for an Egyptian woman to be called one of Pharaoh’s wives, and Sarah honoured this by submitting to Pharaoh, as though she had no other husband.
She did it willingly, for the sake of her real husband Abraham but in reality, she was a slave.
We don’t know what kind of man Pharaoh was. We don’t know how long, Sarah was his wife, we don’t know what she did sexually, perhaps as some insist, she did nothing at all.
Perhaps in the eyes of Pharaoh, she was there purely for diplomatic reasons and she remained untouched, protected and kept pure by God. Her influence on Pharaoh may have been entirely holy.
Or perhaps she was sexually involved with the Pharaoh, perhaps she was even sexually involved with other members of the royal harem.
We don’t know.
Scripture does not say what she did, but we do know Abraham amassed wealth in the meantime, much of it gifts from Pharaoh who was so pleased with “his sister”. We do know it wasn’t a short visit. Some say it was three years.
We also know that God did not abandon Sarah. He fought for her. He got to Pharaoh by sending plagues on the Egyptians, like he would again for Sarah’s offspring enslaved in Egypt hundreds of years later. Through the plagues, God rescued Sarah and returned her to her husband.
What must that reunion have been like?
This was when Sarah took the Egyptian Hagar, back to Abraham with her, as a maidservant. Some say Hagar was Sarah’s handmaiden in Egypt who wanted to follow Sarah’s God after she saw how He rescued Sarah, some say Hagar was a princess, an appeasement by Pharaoh.
Again we don’t know…
but it can’t have been easy for Hagar to leave palace life, her country and her Gods.
Comment below with your gems and be encouraged to keep walking in faith in all areas of your life today.
Lots of love,