Have you ever thought you had something in common with one of the women in the Bible? I sure have (and more than once). Today we’re going to do a Bible study on an important woman who was a lot like us. Her name is Sarah. She was beautiful and barren (like some of us), and was a woman God had big plans for. Are you ready to see what lessons we can learn from studying Sarah’s story in the Bible?
Learn to See Yourself Differently
There’s a lot in the Bible about Sarah, but it’s easy to only see her as a barren, yet beautiful woman. As women, we don’t want to be known only for what we “have.” Right?
I don’t want people only knowing me as “Hannah, the type 1 diabetic with scoliosis” or as “Hannah, the lady with a service dog.”
Yet, there are a lot of “physical body” things we tend to be known for or identified as. You might be a diabetic, a mother, have green eyes, be barren, or fill-in-your-own-blanks.
But, they weren’t who Sarah was and they aren’t who God says we are as women. They do shape and affect our lives but I want you to begin thinking of who you are apart from how your body looks or acts.
That’s the first lesson from Sarah’s story in the Bible.
Now we’re going to open God’s Word and look at Sarah’s barren beautiful story to see what God wants to say to us.
First, Sarah’s barrenness.
- What about yourself do you love?
This could be something about how your brain works, a talent God’s given you, a hobby that brings you or others joy, a way you love to serve others, anything except things about your physical appearance or ways a physical sickness/disease limits you.
Sarah's Story & A Promise
The first we hear about Sarah (Sarai) in the Bible is that she’s Abraham’s (Abram) barren wife (Genesis 11:29-30). Bible scholars say barrenness was the leading cause of divorce in ancient times and could have resulted in a very rocky marriage for Sarah.
Because in most cultures a woman’s worth was in her ability to produce heirs and when childbirth didn’t happen, it was all the woman’s fault. Sarah was blessed with a husband who trusted God and because of this, defied these ancient cultural odds. A few verses after Sarah’s barrenness is made known, God gives Abraham a promise that his offspring would inherit the land God had just moved them to.
Now, I’m presuming Abraham would have told his wife about this…Right?!
Hearing a promise like this would have been something a modern-day husband would likely rush to tell his wife.
This barren wife likely knew what God had said to Abraham, but more than that, she knew that God also promised that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3, 7)
Can you imagine being being barren and having this promise made to your husband?
As a woman, she may have been counting the days, the menstrual cycles, and doing anything people did thousands of years ago to encourage pregnancy.
If she knew about this promise, she had to have thought she’d be a mother. But God’s promise to Abraham involved a long barren season.
Barren & Waiting
God saw Sarah as a strong, faithful woman who’d be able to withstand the struggles ahead. He saw her as the woman who’d be forever written into the pages of Scripture as an encouragement to women like us.
Sarah wasn’t just a barren wife, she was a fruitful woman of God who’s testimony has continued bearing fruit for thousands of years. But…she was barren.
There are a lot of things that can leave us feeling barren or dry. My barrenness involves a project God gave me, and I’ve not always been good at waiting. It’s my own struggles with patience that caused me to pause and think of things other women, like you, might be waiting for.
Thinking about how Sarah and you may spend day after day and month after month waiting, wondering, trying, praying, hoping…the tears, stress, questions…
When I read these verses, I mourn for all women who’ve been crying out to God for a child, who’ve been waiting for anything God’s promised. But, we all have to remember that God keeps every promise He makes.
Then, when you’re witnessing the fruit of God’s promise, give glory to God and faithfully proclaim God’s goodness and mercy to all.
This brings us another lesson from Sarah, and that lesson is:
- God keeps His promises, even promises made to women who’re walking through barren seasons.
- What promise from God are you waiting for?
- How have you been waiting? Patiently, complaining, depressed, rejoicing, etc…
Friend, no matter how long you have to wait, wait patiently and with joyful hope for God to make your barren or dry season fruitful. No matter the reason for your barrenness, God sees you as a woman who’s strong enough to walk through the barren season with His help.
We’re going to come back to Sarah’s barrenness in a bit, but first I want to continue her story.
Beautiful & Taken
Okay, we now know Sarah is barren and trekking across the county with her husband. Then, in a matter of four verses, we’re told Sarah’s exceptionally beautiful, separated from her husband, and married to Pharoah.
Umm! This is the stuff movies are made of…
Strikingly beautiful woman with long dark hair blowing in the desert wind is following God to her new home. Suddenly, famine strikes and no sooner than she’d put the finishing touches on her new tent, her husband tells her to pack up. They’re going to Egypt, going to find food before they starve.
But…This “dramatic” reenactment is a true story, it’s Sarah’s story in the Bible.
Think about having your husband tell you: “when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister…” Genesis 12:12-13
Sarah wasn’t just a beautiful, barren woman. She was brave, determined, and bold. Sarah had to have known the risks of entering Egypt and I believe that like her husband, Sarah trusted God.
In my reenactment, Sarah’s got a wonder woman emblem on her chest as she walks into Egypt. Her weapon?
The unstoppable power of God.
I’m also imagining her brain playing out all the possible scenarios and how she’d handle each one. But more than that, I imagine her nonstop prayers to God. Crying out day and night, reminding God of the promise He’d made Abraham while also begging Him to rescue her.
- Do you see yourself as beautiful?
- Why or why not?
As a woman created in the image of God, you are beautiful. If you struggle to appreciate your appearance, consider writing a letter of gratitude to your body. You can learn about this here.
- How could seeing yourself as God sees you, change the way you see yourself?
- Could this make you bolder in doing things for God?
Dear friend, God created you to reflect Him in ways only you can. You were handcrafted and perfectly designed by your loving heavenly Father. As a woman of God, God’s image-bearer, you are altogether beautiful. This lesson from Sarah’s story is that true beauty is seen in a woman who reflects her God.
Now, let’s look at beauty and barrenness together.
The Lesson in Barrenness
We’ve each had seasons of barrenness, whether it’s barren wombs, circumstances, or dry seasons. God’s chosen people, Israel, came from barren wombs and Sarah’s barren womb was the first of many in their story.
Why did and does God allow barrenness?
One reason is because only God can bring beautiful life to anything barren and from the beginning, God wanted all mankind to know that all things come from Him.
Ladies, no matter what kind of barrenness we’re walking through, our lesson involves patience, faith, and unshakeable trust. If God has told us something, it’ll happen whenever and however God knows is best.
As we’re walking through barren seasons we’ve got to keep our eyes fixed on God.
Sarah’s physical beauty likely paled compared to the beauty of God she reflected when she patiently and faithfully trusted God.
So, no matter your reason for barrenness, have patience, faith, and unshakeable trust. Dig into the fruitful soil of God’s Word and allow yourself to drink in as you spend time planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
- How can you envision God bringing beauty to your dry season or barrenness?
- Write out a prayer to God thanking and praising Him for all He’s done and could do.
Next week we’ll continue Sarah’s story and see how she took things into her own hands (there’s a lot to learn here).
First, let’s wrap up this part of our beautifully barren story.
There’s a lot we can learn from Sarah’s story in the Bible but today I want you to learn three things…
Ask the Holy Spirit to develop these things in you while showing you the beauty of being fully dependent on God.
What beautiful things will grow when we follow God and patiently trust Him to heal our barrenness. So no matter what your barrenness looks like, will you trust God to lead you through this dry season?
Waiting is hard and often barren places make it feel like God’s turned His back. If you feel this way, please know that God will never turn His back on His beloved.
Cling tightly to God, spend time in His Word, and don’t stop asking, seeking, and knocking. God’s answer and the end of your barrenness are around the bend.
Next week we’ll continue looking at Sarah’s story so be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss the next part.
Until then, remember Psalm 63:1
“O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Then read the rest of Psalm 63:1-11 and remember, no matter what you think your reflection in the mirror shows and no matter what your body struggles to do, you are beautiful.