What We Can Learn from Sarah

Alicia Searl

Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 26, 2023
What We Can Learn from Sarah

...when we place our trust in our Father and have faith He will see us through, He will forever be our greatest rescue story.

Sarah is a familiar story in the Bible, but one that is filled with pivotal plot twists, leaving even the modern-day reader scratching their head, wondering… hmm, how is that even possible? That’s because Sarah isn’t your typical heroine storyline, yet somehow between her stunning beauty, questionable faith, battles with infertility, tinges of jealousy, and ill-witted humor, she is real and relatable. As the wife to Father Abraham and the woman that bore a child at age 90, she is often known for her patience and trust in God. But, like any strong woman, it took her a while to get to that place.

While Sarah’s story is quite unusual and surely unique, it speaks to the hearts of us all. It shows how our God can use even our weakest moments to do great and powerful things! As Sarah’s story unfolds at the beginning of the Old Testament in Genesis, we see how God is, indeed, faithful and delivers on His promises. However, this story has so much to unpack, as we’ll merely scratch the surface here. So, as you read Sarah’s story and find it intrigues you, I would encourage you to read more and discover how her story can impact your own. 

But for now, let’s meet the people that shaped her story and a few lessons we can take away from it all:

Meet Abram and Sarai

Abraham and Sarah were “the” couple. The couple that holds the prestigious title of the “Father and Mother of the Nations.” Often portrayed as the couple having extraordinary faith and leaning on God through all their trials. But was it always that way? A simple Sunday school lesson teaches our children that this elderly couple went on an adventure to a promised land that God showed them. Then due to their obedience and faith in God, they were given a child. 

Okay, simply put, yes, that is the jist of the story. But, humor me a moment, and let’s backtrack just a bit to how this oh-so-enduring couple got there. Genesis 1-11 is an overview of God’s creation, including Adam and Eve, the fall, the flood, and the building of the Tower of Babel, thus causing the people to scatter all over the earth. Basically, people had become rebellious once again, so God devised another rescue plan because that is Who He is – our Rescuer. This is where we meet Abram.

In Genesis 12:1-3, we hear a conversation between Abram (this was his original name) and the Lord. The Lord calls on him to leave his country and go to Canaan (a great nation), ensuring a bounty of blessings. Now, it is important to note that this marked the beginning of a promise for all of us! Just as the Lord uses the ordinary and flawed people (that would be all of us) to fulfill a purpose, that is exactly what happens here. 

Once on the treacherous journey to the new land, Abram and his wife, Sarai (this was her original name), encounter a famine and veer off into Egypt (Genesis 12:10). Sarai being the beauty that she was, strikes a chord with the Pharaoh, and Abram notices. So, he asks her to play the role of his sister, hoping he would be treated well and survive (Genesis 12:1-13). Just a side note that Sarai was Abram’s half-sister (Genesis 20:12). This was pretty customary at this time.

However, when the truth is revealed, let’s just say that didn’t go over too well, and the Lord brought about an infectious disease in the Pharaoh’s household, eventually leading Abram and Sarai to be cast out (Genesis 12:17-20). Yes, this was all part of God’s provision and protection of them. 

Now time goes on, and we see Abram and Sarai growing older, and they begin to lose hope of having a child of their own. They lose hope of becoming parents and starting this great nation they were promised. So, Sarai (being the determined woman that she was) decides to take matters into her own hands and brings in another “able” woman into their marriage.

This seems to be downright scandalous, but this was not an uncommon practice at the time and was even deemed as socially acceptable. Just goes to show how our culture can twist sin to be “acceptable” when we fall to our flesh and call it justified. 

Meet Hagar and Ishmael

Even though God promised Abram a son and that their offspring would be more than the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:1-6), he went along with Sarai’s plan to try to have a child. Abram married Hagar, Sarai’s Egyptian maidservant, and proceeded to sleep with her in hopes of creating a family for Sarai and himself (Genesis 16:2-4). Well, obviously, this turned out to be a terrible mistake! 

Tension and emotions get entangled in this mess, like they always do with sinful choices, and Hagar taunts Sarai while she is pregnant. This infuriates Sarai, so in return, she mistreats Hagar. In the end, Hagar runs away in fear of Sarai, only to be met by an angel of the Lord that brings her comfort and tells her she will have a son named Ishmael (Genesis 16:11).

Whoa. Let’s just stop right there. Every time I read this story, I am confronted with the same confusion. This story is the birth of our nations? This is how it all began? Yet, God saw how it was all going to go down, and He still said, “Yes, I am going to bless them.” He says that to you and me. Oh, how His love for us is so great! It’s truly mind-boggling.

Ok, let’s continue….

Meet Isaac

Fast-forward fourteen years, and now we meet Isaac. The long-awaited son finally arrives! Sarah and Abraham are parents – together! Yes, they have acquired their new names to denote the covenant of blessing as father and mother of many nations (Genesis 17:15-16). However, their troubles are far from over. 

Now they have two vastly different sons. Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn from Hagar. And Isaac, the one who was born from Sarah, the one God had chosen to bring forth His inheritance and birth a nation upon nations. 

Here within lies the difference. Genesis 16:12 states that Ishmael would be a wild man, his hand against everyone, living in hostility. Unfortunately, this foretells his future. But Isaac had a very different future. He was not only in the family lineage of Judah, Jesse, David, and the Messiah, but he grew the faith of his parents and made them place their complete trust in God with a close-call encounter of human sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-19). 

This was all part of God’s plan, which made them fully reliant upon God and His promises. They grew in their faith and trusted God with their whole hearts because of it. Eventually, Abraham was commanded to trust Sarah when she asked him to let Hagar and Ishmael go (Genesis 21:12). This allowed them to live the life God had planned for their family and all those in God’s family (John 8:33-47).

Takeaways for Sarah

God Has a Purpose for Our Marriage

Abraham and Sarah obviously had some issues in their marriage. We see that when they weren’t honest in Egypt and when they devised a plan against God’s will to have a child. Grave consequences stemmed from those choices.

But, at the same time, their story can teach us an invaluable lesson. God cares deeply about our union as a husband and wife. It is sacred to Him. However, when we go outside of marital boundaries, it can cause hurt, pain, and destruction.

That being said, our God is still the God of grace, and while Sarah and Abraham went outside of God’s will for their marriage, God bestowed mercy upon them and granted them a multitude of blessings. The truth of the matter is that God knows the posture of our hearts. 

God Is Faithful and Delivers on His Promises

Where our faith may waver and come and go depending on our circumstances or emotions, God is constant and forever the same, never changing. His love is without end and has no strings attached. He is, and always will be, faithful and deliver on His promises. We see how He delivered on His promise to make Abraham Father of the Nations. 

It may not come in our timing, but when God lays something on our hearts or plants a certain desire (like Sarah did to have a child), He will deliver in His will and way. We need only to trust and remain faithful, and He will bring us to a place of peace, even in the waiting.

God Is Our Rescuer

It’s honestly so nice to know that no matter how far we veer off or how many messes we find ourselves in, God is constantly reaching out His loving hand and asking us to take hold. Even though Abraham and Sarah made some rather bad choices, God was with them. He protected them and provided for them, even when they slipped into the ways of their flesh. 

God always provides a way out for us when we are bound by sin. He gives us opportunities to seek refuge and provides a safe haven for us in times of trouble. He charts a new path out of the darkness. One that provides light and redemption. It may look like the blessing of a sweet friend or the counsel of a mentor. It could be a new beginning or letting go of a destructive past. But when we place our trust in our Father and have faith He will see us through, He will forever be our greatest rescue story.

May Sarah’s story encourage you to live with the assurance that you are covered by a faithful God who only wants the best for you. You are a part of His family, not because you are flawless, but because your flaws don’t define you. So, walk in that confidence today, dear friend!

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/flyparade

Alicia SearlAlicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy.  Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.