Meet Sarah: The Mother of Believers (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 318

“Look to Abraham your father; and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him” (Isaiah 51:2, NKJV).

Due to Judah’s unfaithfulness, the kingdom experienced a spiritual crisis. Many went astray and followed other gods. As a whole, the nation saw a steady decline in religious fervor and prosperity. Hope for a restored Jerusalem dwindled. This caused the righteous in the land to wonder if the Lord still remembered His people. Not only that, they wondered if there ever would be a revival and restoration in Zion. Isaiah’s ministry to Judah was two-fold. His mission was to call the nation to repentance and trust, and to reassure them of a future filled with hope, prosperity and glory.

 In Isaiah 51, the Lord had a message for the righteous in the land who longed for Zion’s restoration. He urged them to look back at their roots: “Look to Abraham your father; and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.” God knew that Abraham and Sarah were the father and mother of His chosen people. He called the people’s attention to them for a reason. Notice what He said in the second part of the passage. He called one man, Abraham, who had no child. Yet He blessed him and increased Him. The point God is making here is that He is a God of increase and of infinite possibilities. He is able to create a multitude out of one person. If He could do that with Abraham and Sarah, He could restore and increase Zion also.

Let us consider Sarah since she is the focus of this teaching. God said to His people, “look to Sarah who bore you.” It is as if God had said, “Look to Sarah, your mother. Consider her life of faith and the great things I did for her. If you believe in me, I can do for you what I did for her.” Sarah was barren. Moreover, age had caught up with her. The hope, if any, of bearing a child was gone. Despite these odds, the Lord promised that Sarah would be the mother of nations, and that kings of peoples would come from her.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us how Sarah conceived: “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (11:11). Sarah was a believer. She held on to God’s promise, believing that the Lord was who He said He was. She believed that the Lord would deliver according to His solemn word. By faith, therefore, Sarah received strength to defy the laws of biology. Contrary to the dictates of scientific facts, she conceived and gave birth to Isaac when she was ninety years old. And through Isaac, the Lord increased Sarah so that she became the mother of multitudes of people who believe in the Lord.

When the Lord told His people (in Isaiah 51) to look to Sarah, their mother, He wanted them to learn from the faith of Sarah. He wanted them to have faith that if He could make a barren woman the mother of their nation, He could also restore and prosper Zion despite her seemingly hopeless condition. This message applies to Christians today. God wants us to remember that we are a nation of faith and that Sarah is our ‘mother-in-faith.’ 

We can face situations where the odds seem to be against us. In those moments, let us remember that we are from Sarah’s line: a line of people who defy the laws of nature, time and space. When they say there is no hope, we say, “Hope does not disappoint.” When they say there is no cure, we say, “With His stripes, we are healed.” When they say we can’t, we say, “We can do all things through Him who strengthens us.” And when they say it is impossible, we reply, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

To be continued . . .

For further studyGenesis 18:1-15

The Lord Has Not Forgotten You

Daily Devotional: Day 154

“But the angel [Gabriel] said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13-14, NKJV).

Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth had been married for years, but they had no child. The Bible says that Elizabeth was barren, and the couple was well advanced in years, i.e. they were past child-bearing age. This must have been very stressful for the couple, especially given the social and religious expectations of the time.

Based on today’s passage, we know that Zacharias had prayed for a child, but nothing changed. We also know from Luke 1:18 that the couple had, for obvious reasons, stopped entertaining any hope of having a child. The unkind laws of biology had closed the window of hope. What then was the point of praying? Naturally, Zacharias and his wife moved on, having accepted the reality. But had God moved on? Zacharias was about to find out.

One day, while Zacharias was ministering as a priest, angel Gabriel appeared to him and promised that the couple would have a child. Notice how Gabriel put it; he said to Zacharias, “your prayer is heard.” Zacharias’ prayer had been heard long (probably years) before Gabriel brought this news. This tells us that, although Zacharias had moved on, God hadn’t. When you pray today, God hears you and may say ‘Yes’ to your request, but you may not see the result until some time later.

The point is, with God, timing is everythingEvery blessing has its timing. And timing varies from person to person. What is the right time for others may not be the right time for you. You may think you need something now, but now may not be God’s plan for you, no matter how desperate you think your situation is. Do you have the patience to trust and wait? When you pray for something, don’t just focus on what you want, ask God to also give you a sense of timing – so that you can wait in hope if necessary.

There probably were many contemporaries of Zacharias and Elizabeth who had children. But everyone is different, and every marriage is also different. You may or may not have children. You may have just one child or many. Whatever the situation is, it doesn’t prove that God loves you more or less. The fact is, we’re all different and so we will not all have the same things at the same time. Therefore, it is not advisable to compare yourself to others. Let others be others, and you be you. Be happy about your life, knowing that God hasn’t abandoned you. He knows what He is doing with you. Just relax.

Comparing yourself to others only puts unnecessary pressure on you. You’ll will come under even more pressure if you listen to people around you who are constantly reminding you of what you lack. Those are people who impose their own expectations on you. If you’re not secure in your faith, they’ll make you doubt yourself. To put an end to their pressure, you might do things that’ll compromise every virtue you uphold. If you have people like that in your inner circle, you need to be extra careful. If you can keep your distance from them, don’t hesitate to do so. 

Ask God to show you His specific will and timing for you; once you know that, you’ll have peace in all you do. Despite the pain of not having a child, Zacharias and his wife were not mad at God; they weren’t bitter or agitated. In fact, they never stopped being faithful to God (cf. Luke 1:5-6). When the time was right, Gabriel said to Zacharias, “you will have joy and gladness” (emphasis added). This means, it’s never too late for you, too, to have joy and gladness. No blessing from God is too late. God’s timing is always perfect.

Whether you see the result of your prayer today, next year or never, one thing is important: Just remain faithful. God has not forgotten about you. He will surprise you when you least expect.

May the Lord’s favor be upon you today! Amen.

For further study: Psalm 13:1-6