Thursday, February 21, 2013

Abraham and Sarah

My last post was just what it said it was: raw.  It made people worry and it was, even to me, somewhat melodramatic.  Not that emotion in it isn't real - it is - just that when I am writing from a very emotional place, things get a little overly expressed.

I have been thinking a LOT about Abraham and Sarah.  God had a plan for them.  Well, He had lots of plans for them, but I am thinking specifically of His plan that they would have a child of their own, even though they were very old.  The whole story is told in Genesis, and chapter 15 is where I really start thinking about the story.  At this point Abraham and Sarah are so old that Sarah actually laughs when God (through an angel,) tells her that she will have a son.  She is past child-bearing age.  There is no earthly way she will conceive.

At this point in our lives, there is an incredibly slim chance that we will conceive a child.  Even if we did not have identified fertility issues, it becomes less likely each passing year that we would be able to conceive a child.  There are ways to try to combat this: fertility treatments, shots, changes to bodies, and other means to get to the big goal.  And it is so tempting.  In fact, the temptation gets easier to want to say yes to, as more and more people in our lives suggest or imply that these means are justified, that there is medical technology in place to help us.  All of that is true.  And none of those things are bad.  For some, they are the solution.

But not for us.

I don't say that lightly, and I don't say it as a never-to-be-altered declarative statement.  I say it because whenever J and I slog through the pile of emotions and thoughts that go with this mess, it becomes clear that this is not the path for us.

And I come back to the story of Sarah and Abraham.  Do you remember the other adult in the story of their fertility?  Hagar.  She was Sarah's servant, and Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her so that through her Sarah could have a child (Genesis 16:1-4).  This was, I think, an accepted practice of this time.  Abraham made Hagar "his wife," they had sex, and she conceived.  Voila!  Problem solved.  There was nothing inherently wrong with it.  It was a culturally accepted way to have a child. 

Except that it wasn't what God wanted or promised for Abraham and Sarah.

Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham AFTER God had made a huge, specific promise to Abraham:  "But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”  4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:2-6.)  God has promised an heir of their own flesh and blood, yet they still find an alternate plan, because it seems so absurd that they would have their own child.

Now, God still notices Hagar and still notices her child, and there's a different plan in place there, but my point is that Abraham and Sarah, despite having a specific promise from God, chose to go down a culturally accepted, very rational, very practical road to have a child.  It just wasn't the road God promised or preferred.  He really meant it when he said that they would have a child of their own.

"Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

It doesn't mean that God didn't use the whole situation for good.  But it did give us a whole other branch of people.  I am very rusty on my Old Testament history, but if Abraham and Hagar had not had Ishmael, how would things be different?

I'm straying from my point.  My point is that this story encourages me.  It buoys me up in the moments when I think I am going to drown.  God made a promise and He kept it.  Has God made a promise like that to me and J?  No, not really.  But every time we start to think and talk about going down a more culturally accepted road, we feel resistance.  We feel like it is not the right path for us.  And oh, how I want to ignore it sometimes!  I want to rush to the doctor before I change my mind and have them pump me and J full of the drugs they say might work.

But I don't think that is God's plan.  That is my plan.  My solution to the problem.  God's plan isn't done yet.  It may mean being childless.  It may mean adopting, which is something we are talking more about now, and I am praying that God would remove my fears about it.  It may mean having a child of our own.  It might mean something else entirely.  But I want to find out.  I want to see what His plan is, because if nothing else, I know it is good.