The story of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, is awe inspiring. When I stop and think of it, it is incredible what God did in the life of Sarah. She was the wife and woman of faith behind Abraham, the man who believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3,9,22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:22-23). When God called Abraham to leave his home in Ur and travel into the unknown, Sarah faithfully packed up and went with him. When Abraham twice asked Sarah to pass herself off as his sister to protect his own life, yet exposing her to harm, Sarah obeyed. Sarah faithfully followed Abraham wherever God led without complaint. The apostle Peter wrote of her, Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Peter 3:6), and God honored her by giving her a new name (Genesis 17:15). He changed her name from Sarai, which means “my princess”, (limiting her honor to one family) to Sarah, which signifies a princess of multitudes. Thus, Sarah became a fellow heir of God’s promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, “I will bless you and you shall be a blessing….and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” For by the power of God, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, thus becoming a significant matriarch in the line of Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews wrote, By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man [Abraham], and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore (11:11-12).
When the Lord appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-15) and told him that Sarah would bear a son, Sarah was eavesdropping, and knowing that Abraham was 100 years old and she was well past the age of childbearing, she laughed within herself, saying, “after I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
I think its unfortunate that many commentators take Sarah’s laughter to signify unbelief and turn this passage around and make it all about Abraham. But I don’t think Sarah’s laughter was lacking in faith. I think she laughed because the news she had just heard was, to the human mind, absolutely too good to fathom. Have you ever received news that you thought was just too good to possibly be true? Did excited laughter ever well up inside you spontaneously because you wanted it to be true with all your heart but you knew that humanly speaking it was impossible? If you have, you know that it’s an instantaneous laughter that is uncontrollable. It just comes out because the news you have heard is so incredible. But you know deep inside that with God anything is possible, and you want it to be true with all your heart. So when the Lord heard Sarah's laughter and asked the rhetorical question, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Sarah’s faith was confirmed. All thoughts of her own and Abraham’s inability to conceive were overcome by her belief in God’s power and faithfulness. Surely this was strengthened by her life experiences of God’s faithfulness through the years.
Sarah was a woman of faith who is held up to all women as an example of faith. In 1 Peter 3, the apostle addresses women, encouraging us to adorn ourselves with ornaments of inner beauty, an incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (verses 3-5). The Bible presents Sarah as our example of faithful, fearless womanhood. Her entire life was lived by faith and God honored her.
So just as the men of faith described in Hebrews 11 are an example to all people, including women, so Sarah is an example of faith to all people, including men. Because Sarah took it to heart that nothing is too hard for the Lord. Like Sarah, we need to remember that Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Our faith is not in ourselves or in our faith, but in God who is faithful. So when we are faithful in the little things, like following wherever God leads and being obedient even when we’re afraid, then God entrusts us with the big things -- even when we’re old.
May your faith shine like Sarah’s,
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.