I look up to, and see myself in, many men in the Bible- Peter, and his impulsive, inconsistent, moments of spiritual passion; David, who processes his spiritual thoughts through his art; Thomas, who doesn’t believe everything he hears, even if it means he gets scolded for it. Unfortunately, due to the fact that most of the Bible took place in an antiquated, male dominated society, there are significantly less women for me to look up to. As a feminist, I believe it is important for me to find female role models, so over the past year and a half I have been trying to catch the Bible’s sometimes subtle nods to faithful women. About two months ago, I began to start to see myself in an unexpected Biblical female- my namesake, Sarah.
Even with our shared preference for men named Abraham aside, we have quite a bit in common. For one, neither of us stayed in the same place for long. Sure, moving from Ur to God-only-knows-where on a camel is a bit more extreme than my moving experiences, but her flexibility still inspires me. I’ve lived in three states in less than two years, and so much moving around has been extremely stressful, not to mention extremely lonely. How did you handle it, Bible Sarah? You were pretty awesome!
Secondly, Bible Sarah, much like Sarah Moon, was not easily convinced of things. Angels came down from heaven to tell her, “Hey, you’re going to have a son!” And what did she do? She laughed, of course. Perhaps this wasn’t the best response, but was it not the most human? I appreciate how real Sarah was, and I resonate with her skepticism. Often, I will be sitting in a church service, and the preacher will talk about what God is going to do. Those around me respond with a chorus of “Amen”s, but my natural response is to snicker. This is probably wrong of me on some level, but I also believe that God understands the moments of disbelief that people like Sarah and I have. I believe he may even appreciate them. They do, after all, give him a chance to prove us awesomely wrong!
We Sarahs also share a tendency to take matters into our own hands. God told Sarah and Abraham that they would have a son, but Sarah was impatient and skeptical (traits which I embody frequently). So, what did she do? She did what any strong, independent woman would do and took matters into her own hands. That would have been fine, however, when it comes to God, matters are usually better left in his hands. I guess Bible Sarah learned that the hard way, and things got pretty crazy. This Sarah frequently learns the hard way, too. Impatiently, irrationally taking control of every situation just because I don’t trust God to come through almost always causes a huge mess. And I could end this post on that note and walk away feeling like a bit of a failure.
But, then we turn to the New Testament, where we find Hebrews 11, a chapter that my Baptist friends (Warning: Cheesy Wordplay Alert!) refer to as the “Hall of Faith.” Who ends up in this chapter, next to the likes of Abraham, Moses, and Noah? Sarah! Despite her shortcomings, the writer of Hebrews uses her story to inspire New Testament Christians. She was commended for her faith. Some might say, “What faith?” But, God knew the limitations of her humanity and God knew her heart. Yet, he considered her faithful.
…Maybe there is hope for me, after all!