Sarah's Way of Patience
by Jenna Legg
Advent is a wonderfully complex time of year. Anticipation can bring up so many emotions - fear, joy, excitement, nervousness and more. To add to the complexity, in Advent, we anticipate many things -- the birth of Jesus as a historical event, the continual coming of Christ in our present lives, and the return of Christ at the end of time. We cram all the anticipation for these events into four weeks, while we also prepare for our Christmas celebrations!
Discernment is anticipation and requires waiting. Sometimes we have to wait on ourselves, while our minds and hearts sort out our thoughts and feelings. It takes time for us to uncover what brings us true joy. Many times, we have to wait on God. We may seek him over and over in prayer, begging to be answered or led in a certain direction. God may seem like he's not answering or even listening, but I trust that He is waiting for the perfect time. Even if I think the perfect time was yesterday.
I've been reading Twelve Extraordinary Women to gain some Advent inspiration. For the past few years, I've been drawn to Sarah (Abraham's wife). I always thought of her as a docile, holy woman. I wondered how she waited patiently for DECADES to bear a child. I've combed through the scriptures numerous times, hoping to uncover where her patience came from. But MacArthur offered me a different perspective of this matriarch; to him, she was a feisty, moody, yet faithful woman. To that woman, I can relate.
Initially Sarah was not promised an heir; Abraham was. So, it's no wonder after years of waiting for a son, she wondered if God's promise was not meant for her. Maybe she understood God wrong. Hence, the plot to give her maidservant Hagar to Abraham came about. How many times have I grown impatient and started to doubt God or one of His promises? God does not waver; my patience does.
Ultimately, Sarah continues to have moments of patience and moments where her impatience leads her to anger and jealousy. Throughout it all, she continued to have a relationship with God and with her husband. Finally, she is told she will bear a child! How does she respond? With laughter! This laughter likely expresses relief, shock and awe. After all, how could she have doubted? Her actions must have seemed a bit silly retrospectively! But God rewarded Sarah's patience and Abraham's faith. And God will reward us.
So, I invite you to journey with Sarah and I this Advent season. She is teaching me about the messy road of patience and faith. And as you journey with us, put your discernment on hold. Don't expect anything or ask for answers. Just be. These last two weeks of practicing patience will be good for all of us.