The Hope of Change

It’s amazing how many times we read God’s Word in the same chunks, grouping certain chapters or verses together in the same way. So I love getting out of my box, reading until some new juxtaposition of things strikes my heart. It happened again the other day in Genesis.

First I read of Sarai and how God protected her from the Pharoah of Egypt when Abram claimed her to be his sister instead of his wife. (Genesis 12) And in that moment, Sarai seemed to be a woman I attained to be—a woman who trusted God even when her husband made a wrong choice.

But fast forward 4 short chapters to Genesis 16. Now we see what I imagine to be a frustrated Sarai—probably feeling like a failure because she isn’t pregnant and Abram keeps saying, “But God told me I’d have an heir.” In exasperation, she gives him her maid, Hagar. When Hagar becomes pregnant and her husband says, “Do whatever you think best,” she doesn’t take his words to heart but instead mistreats her servant who had no choice in this matter in the first place! Not a woman I need help emulating here. In fact, she seems more like the shrew I don’t want to be.

Then comes the amazing part. Though we aren’t told of the intervening thirteen years, we assume Sarai made her peace with the having Hagar and Ishmael around. Though she’d started by blaming Abram for the situation, maybe she came to the conclusion that she’d been wrong in the first place. Maybe as the years passed she made her peace not only with her husband, her maid and Ishmael, maybe she made her peace with God, learned to trust Him no matter if His word appeared impossible to accomplish. But whatever happened in those years, we know this: the woman who had been a shrew suddenly becomes a woman blessed by God. He changes her name to Sarah, explaining that she will be the mother of nations and kings. (Genesis 17:15-16)

Does that encourage you in the same way it does me? An imperfect woman, frustrated by the things she can’t control, goes from impatient wife and harsh mistress to a woman God chooses to bless, a woman God holds up much later as an example of a godly wife. (I Peter 3:6) I find great hope in that today.

What Biblical story has given you hope lately?