Living by faith and grace seems to be the mantra of today’s Grace movement and church culture. By no means is this wrong. In fact, I think its something God has always wanted us to live in. Interestingly, faith and grace are beautifully woven throughout the entire Bible. Faith and grace are not reserved for the New Testament. No, they are the culture of heaven.
Among the first people to experience living by faith and grace are Abraham and Sarah. We’ll get to Abraham next week. For now let’s look at Sarah.
We all know the story of how Sarah and Abraham moved from Ur of Chaldea to go to a land that God would show Abraham. At this point in her life, Sarah is called Sarai which means “princess”. She came from a highly honored and reputable family. In fact, she and Abraham shared the same father but different mothers and as was custom in the day, marriages within families were common and acceptable.
Not only did Sarah come from a well known family, but she was also incredibly beautiful. Her beauty often preceded her reputation and triggered some of Abraham’s insecurities and fears (remember the two times he told her to pretend to be his sister so that he wouldn’t get killed?) No matter the hardships of life and the toils of roaming the world, Sarah remained beautiful and her beauty grew with her.
She was a woman who remained faithful to her husband, obedient and submissive to the end (she did go ahead with his request of pretending to be his sister – twice might I add). She fervently loved Abraham and felt the pain of not being able to give him children. Her faith in God was one that grew over the years as she watched Abraham model a relationship with God and saw time and again God’s faithfulness and provision over their lives.
Yet, she doubted that she could have children in her old age. When she heard God’s promise to Abraham, Sarah doubted. This did not change God’s promise or heart towards her. His promise remained and she would have her own child.
Sarah’s story reminds me of Elizabeth (you can read her story here) since they both did everything they were expected to do and both came from reputable backgrounds. Yet, they were barren which in their time was a source of shame and deep grief. This caused much pride, embarrassment and disappointment – Sarah had let herself, her race, and her husband down.
In all of this, God would swoop in with amazing grace, faith, and redemption.
Living by faith and grace
Living by faith and grace is a challenge for all of us. We have to confront our fears, insecurities, pride, shame, and other giants. We are forced to wait on God for his promises and timing while we wonder about his punctuality and faithfulness.
Sometimes life is harsh and unfair. We get dealt a card that we didn’t want or deserve. In Sarah’s case it was barrenness and maybe even a nomadic life. She handled Abraham with grace. We can learn a lot from her about loving our spouses consistently and relentlessly. Sarah understood submission and love. They fueled her actions and kept her faithful. God delivered her from those precarious positions.
How faithful is God!
When we make mistakes or submit to our husbands in decisions that may not be the best, God always steps in and saves the day. We can count on him to protect us and watch over us. At the end of the day, God is the best husband. He will step into those areas that our husbands may not be able to lead us in; and, while God is leading us in that area, he will be helping our husbands to reach the maturity and confidence to lead us.
I do think that Sarah probably compared her walk with God against Abraham’s. Yet, God had a heart of love towards her. By changing her name from Sarai to Sarah, he included her in his plans to create a new nation that would bless all nations. It was from Sarah that Jesus came into the world thousands of years later. Sarah was a Gentile woman who bravely followed her husband into a relationship with God and became the starting chapter in a story of redemption. What an honor and privilege!
How does this apply to you?
Whatever you are facing and whatever God has promised you, I want to encourage you that God sees you and includes you in his plans. You may not see the end picture but God has decided that who you are is key to the saving of the world.
Sarah was not a perfect wife, woman, or mother. Heck, she even encouraged her husband to have an affair. OMG…. ha ha ha ha. I love that about her. She is real and honest. God turned her self-doubt into triumph. He gave her joy , blessing, favor, grace, and redemption. He will do the same for you.
God doesn’t change his promises or faithfulness because of your lack of faith, joy, or security. He makes those promises because he loves you and chose you. His promises are given out of the truth of his character. They can’t be changed or stopped. God is ok with your humanness, mess, mistakes, and unglamorous life. He wants you to be you.
Sarah didn’t hide who she was from God. She still learned to believe in him and begin living by faith and grace. Its ok to be a work in progress. God’s promises remain and he will give you a happy ending. He always does.
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