Up to this point, in 10 years’ time, Sarai was moved from her home and her family, her husband has a covenant with God to be the father of nations and all the while she is barren, her husband disowns her in the presence of kings to save his own neck and receives a monetary gain while she is being passed around for her beauty. Then, God reestablishes his covenant with Abram to be the father of nations.
In Genesis 16 Sarai is so convinced that God is done with her. She takes herself out of her own story and gives Hagar, her servant, to her husband Abram as a wife. Sarai benches herself in Genesis 16: “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant: it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’”
Abram listens to his wife Sarai, takes Hagar as his wife, she becomes pregnant and they have a son name Ishmael. Hagar begins to look down at Sarai. I don’t think Sarai could get further into the margins in her own story. Her slave becomes pregnant with her husband’s baby in hopes of furthering the family line.
In Genesis 17, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and God establishes a covenant with Abraham to make him a father of nations. God tells Abraham that this will be a covenant of circumcision. This is the third time that God is establishing a covenant with Abraham, but the first time that Sarai is mentioned. The first thing God does is he changes her name from Sarai to Sarah and says, “I will bless her and moreover, I will give you a son by her.” In verse 21 of chapter 17 God says, “But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
Then, in Genesis 18, the Lord visited Abraham and Abraham asked if he could prepare the Lord’s messengers a meal. The Lord agrees, Abraham runs off to arrange the meal preparations. The Lord asked where Sarah was. Abraham says, “She is in the tent.” Then, the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” Sarah is finally in the story. She is slowly moving out of the margins and unto the main page as she listens behind the tent door.
Genesis 18:11 -12 says, “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?"
Sarah laughs at the promise because she can’t see herself being used by God. She is sitting on the bench and not running the race at all.
In Genesis 20, Abraham and Sarah find themselves in another situation where Abraham is asking Sarah to lie about being his wife so Abraham will be spared. This takes place after the LORD told BOTH of them that she was going to become pregnant with the promise of their first and only son, Isaac.
Genesis 21 brings us back to our main text. Abraham is 100 and Sarah is 90 and then their son Isaac is born. Sarah moved from bareness to fertility. She moved from the margins to a position of significance and prominence.
Sarah would say, “Just when you’re done. Just when you have called it quits and you think that the promise God spoke won’t happen this side of eternity. Just when you thought your identity was grounded in your inabilities – God gives you a new name and establishes is covenant through you. It doesn’t matter your faults or inabilities. It doesn’t matter if you have been hurt, wounded, or rejected. It doesn’t matter if you don’t add up to the world’s standards: all that doesn’t matter because God isn’t done with you; even when you think you are done and you have done all you can do. Even when you have waited and waited and waited for God to move on your behalf and he still doesn’t move when you think he should – God is not done with you, even if you’re done with Him.