Many women in the Bible were plagued by infertility. In ancient days they were called “barren” – a much more grave term. Since they could not have babies, other women ridiculed them, believing God had punished the desperate ladies by withholding the gift of children. And now in the year 2013, infertility still brings shame and devastation to scores of women.
In the days of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, there were no fertility treatments like we have today. If God didn’t bless a woman’s womb with a baby, there were no alternatives for her to become a natural mother. If you read the stories, you see how these women had husbands who loved them greatly, but they still felt empty without their own baby. In Genesis 25:21 it says, “Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren…”. And Elkanah – Hannah’s husband, saw her weeping with anguish and asked, “Why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (I Samuel 1:8). On another occasion, Rachel railed against Jacob in frustration: “Give me children or else I die!” (Gen 30:1). The bitter plight of these women was grave, but fortunately the scriptures didn’t end there.
There was a 90-year-old woman named Sarai who could never conceive. Sarai was the very first example God gave us in the Bible of the power of His promises regarding motherhood. In Genesis 17 the Lord spoke to Abraham and said He was changing Sarai’s name to “Sarah”, which meant mother of nations. The Almighty proclaimed that Sarah would birth one child, and from that beloved son all the earth would be populated. As exciting as this promise was, Scripture says Abraham laughed so hard he fell on his face (Gen 17:17).
As a nosy wife, Sarah was listening at the tent door when an angel repeated the grand announcement to Abraham – and she also cracked up, imagining the two old people trying to make a baby. Abraham was 100, so her hope was clearly dim. But there was one thing Sarah discovered: God is the giver of life and He holds time in His hands.
Baby Isaac was Abraham and Sarah’s sure promise, no matter how many decades they’d failed at conception. When they both rested in God’s unchanging Word and waited with expectation for its fulfillment, they finally looked their little miracle right in the face.
God’s Word is just as powerful to us today. If we have the mustard seed faith of Sarah and Abraham, we can still see miraculous things happen. The Lord hears our cries, just as He did with Elkanah, Rebekah, and even Isaac as an adult. Each one of these families were blessed with the children they prayed for. This gives us all hope to believe in the impossible.
“The Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him… And Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.’” ~Genesis 21:1-2,6