As I’ve written this month, I’m reminded of the temptation I have to read the Bible through my own eyes and life experience.
When I read the story of Abraham, I often wonder what his marriage was like but then I quickly remember that he lived in a different culture.
But I keep coming back to this. We enter his story when he was seventy-five. Already, there is so much to ask. I assume his marriage was arranged. Was Sarah as young as many in that culture, maybe even fourteen? We know they were ten years apart (Genesis 17:17). Did they love each other? Were they friends?
Nevertheless, we see things were complicated. She followed him to an unknown land. When a famine hit, he and Sarah went to Egypt, where he told her to tell others they were brother and sister. He was willing to pass off his wife to spare his own life. God spared both their lives and they traveled on.
God promises Abraham that he will have an heir. After years passed waiting for this covenant to be fulfilled, Sarah urged Abraham to sleep with their maidservant so that she would have a child. I can’t imagine this decision made their relationship any less complicated. Sure enough, she was filled with contempt, blamed Abraham and banished her maidservant.
Eleven years had passed since we started Abraham’s story until this hate-filled moment.
There was no marriage counseling. No marriage wisdom from the New Testament. They had one thing…the promise directly from God. They still doubted. They still acted on their own understanding. Sure, I can read these stories, knowing how the story ends and think, “How could they do that?” But have I not done the same thing? Have I not acted in anger or impatience, uncertain of what I’m doing along the way?
Thirteen years later, Sarah became pregnant.
I imagine years of agony, heartache, loneliness, doubts and confusion.
Yet the most powerful part of this story is that God remains constant and faithful. “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 12:1)
The Lord God walks with his people, where they are along their journey, and He still fulfills His promises!