Welcome to our first of six weeks delving in to the life of Sarah (or Sarai in the beginning of the story). I am so glad that you have joined us, and my prayer is that you will not only learn a lot more about Sarah, but that you will learn something about yourself too.
This week we have been studying this verse:
“Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive” Genesis 11:30
This is a really short verse to get us started, and you may think its pretty simple. What more is there to get from this verse than the cold hard facts- that Sarai was barren. But this verse is setting the scene for the whole story of Sarah and really giving us a clue as to her mental and emotional state.
unlike those around her
When we read Genesis 11:27-32 all you see is this person had a kid, and that person had a kid. Everyone around Sarai was having children, them growing up and having their own children. She was a spectator on the side of all the noise and hubbub of a community reproducing. Throughout the bible story there we numerous commands from God “reproduce”, “populate the earth” and “be fruitful”, and Sarai was the odd one out. She was the only one who wasn’t able to do this. And so she got labelled…..
Sarai was probably “past it” at this point, in terms of being childbearing age, and so from the narrative we see they have to explain her, give her a label, and let everyone know that she was childless. It was so unusual at that time that they had to make sure it was recorded that she was barren. Over in our Facebook Group we chatted through what people had felt like who had gone through similar experiences. Disapointment, grief, darkness, failure, useless, lonely, darkness, frustration, bitter, resentful, broken, terrified were all words used to describe living under that label. Can you imagine how Sarai would have felt being the first ever woman NOT to fulfill her purpose as a woman to pro-create? Even if Sarai trusted God and had the support of Abram her husband, I am sure that this would have affected her more than we can ever know.
heaping on the guilt
What makes this verse even worse is what comes next. I encouraged everyone this week to also read Genesis 12:1-7. The Lord speaks to Abram and gives him a clear message – “I will make you into a great nation”. A great nation is only created through the kids you have. The kids that Sarai couldn’t have. The kids that they were too old to have together.
What a way to heap on the guilt!! If Sarai already felt bad about being childless, perhaps she had been able to make her peace with it and was just getting on with life and then BAM!! God basically says that they need to reopen that box and look at having kids again! God isn’t finished with Abram and Sarai yet – he doesn’t think they’re “past it” and he knows that Sarai isn’t truly labelled childless, but they don’t know that yet. And its going to take a very long journey to get them to the place where they believe and see this promise come to fruition.
Just the beginning
Well I hope you’ve gotten as much out of this verse as I have. This is just the very beginning of a fascinating story, but we now know the place from which Sarai is coming from. Lets keep this in mind as we move on to next week’s verse:
“As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife”. Then they will kill me but let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake, and my life will be spared because of you.” Genesis 12:11-13
Naomi will be leading the discussion in our Facebook group this week, so make sure you sign up below and take part!!