Dear Modern Mama,
Abram and I began our lives together in Ur of the Chaldeans (on your map, southern Iraq). I had no idea what adventures, travels, and trials awaited us in our marriage! From Ur, we traveled to Haran (i.e. southeastern Turkey), where God spoke to my husband. That is where our journey of trusting God began.
Abram changed after God spoke those prophetic words. God promised to make my husband into a great nation, bless him, and make him a blessing to others. God prophesied that Abram’s name would be great, and all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. All that for my husband, the nomad! I dreaded moving again, but I agreed with Abraham’s commitment to follow God’s directions. This time, we traveled to Canaan (i.e. Israel and Jordan). All that travel left us exhausted: no roads, no vehicles, and, imagine this, no air conditioning!
Our arrival in Canaan came during the big famine, so Abram decided to take us to Egypt. His big scheme in Egypt made me uncomfortable from the beginning. Abram feared that because of my beauty, he risked being killed. He chose to lie to everyone, telling them that I was his sister, not his wife. That did not help me because, separated from my dear husband, I ended up in a harem not knowing if Abram stayed safe. That scared me! Suddenly plagues affected Pharaoh and his household. (Note: the Exodus plagues happened hundreds of years later when our descendants were Egyptian slaves.) When Pharaoh confronted Abram about the awful plagues, Abram told the truth about me. I thought Abram and I would both be killed, but thankfully, we got sent away and we returned to Canaan.
Children are everything in my culture: joy, purpose, household help, work force, retirement plan, status symbol, and more. Infertility bothered me so much in those first decades, even though traveling seemed easier without the challenges of parenting. God’s covenant with Abram promised as many descendants as the stars in the sky. I ached to bear children those first decades of waiting, but I aged-out of having a family. I assumed that Abram’s nation would not happen through me, because I never got pregnant. In Genesis 16-18, you will read how trusting God was hard for me: I doubted God’s plan and made sinful choices, trying to find a way to bring children into our family. After I realized my sin, I doubted that God loved me enough to give me the privilege of bearing and raising children.
Please read my story for yourself and learn the lessons that took me almost a century to understand: God is faithful and He always fulfills His plans. Expect challenges along the way as God builds your faith and teaches you to trust Him. For me, trusting God involved travels along dusty roads, multiple international moves, and almost three-quarters of a century of infertility. Abram and I experienced tent living, an Egyptian king’s hospitality, and then expulsion from Egypt. I often felt both frustration while submitting to my husband and resentment at my infertility.
One important truth that I learned: God’s perspective is very different—much bigger and grander—than my personal viewpoint. Please learn this from my experience: do not doubt or underestimate God’s plans. I admit that my response to God’s plan included disobedience, disbelief, and laughter. God called my husband into a covenant for all generations and times. God also changed our names to Abraham and Sarah, which confirmed the prophecy that we would be the father and mother of nations. When the angels visited, my own ears heard the prophecy that Abraham and I would become parents. I laughed and doubted, but it happened within a year, just as God promised.
The miracle of Isaac’s birth meant that I had a part in the covenant. These events filled my heart more than I could have hoped or imagined. Following God is not boring or fruitless, but neither is it easy or predictable. God’s plan made my suffering worthwhile. Keep trusting God through whatever travels and trials happen in your life. Don’t be like me and spend decades disbelieving God’s plan! Obeying God is the best and most fulfilling adventure you can pursue.
Love to you from this ancient mama,