Originally Posted on Wordpress October 4 2008
All my Christian life I have heard the story of Abram and Sarai as they struggled with the burden of infertility. I remember the story where God came down to earth and ate with Abram. He told Abram that Sarai would conceive. Now Sarai was quite old so conception was no longer a possibility for her based upon the simple fact of human physiology. Sarai also happened to overhear this conversation and laughed to herself. According to the story God overheard Sarai’s laughter and called her out. I had always been taught that Sarai was ‘in the wrong’ for laughing ‘at God’ since God is the author of all life and can create life where there is no life .i.e., the Immaculate Conception.
Now I believe that last part is true, God is the author of life. He is the one who decides if new life begins and when life ends. But I don’t believe that Sarai was wrong for laughing because I no longer believe she laughed solely because she doubted the Sovereignty of God.
If God himself had come down and ate with my husband and told him that we would conceive a child of our own, it would have stirred hope in my heart. Hope. What I have been trying to wrestle with for years now. How do I balance hope with reality. How many times can I allow myself to have hope, only to then allow myself the pain of reoccurring disappointment each month?
I think Sarai, having wrestled with the same issue every month, (hope versus disappointment) would have laughed as a self defense mechanism. I came to realize this just last month. My husband called me out when I made a very ‘unhopeful’ comment about us being successful that month. The truth was I had hope that my nausea which started five days before my period was scheduled to arrive could have meant something. But because I feared the fact that I had any hope at all, I made an unhopeful comment to help put my hope in check. Basically I was giving myself a dose of realism to protect myself from being disappointed. I even laughed when I made my comment. That was when it hit me. Sarai probably laughed as a defense mechanism. She probably thought to herself, “This is the Sovereign Lord standing at my tent saying that I would bear a child. If anyone can do it He can but I’ve hoped so much for so long and now I am an old woman. I can no longer have this kind of hope anymore even when the promise comes from the mouth of God. I can no longer go through the pain of disappointment again. I must guard my heart.” And so she laughed.
So many times I’ve thought that I heard from God; thought that I heard Him giving me a promise only to be disappointed. The only promise I know for sure came about four months before we started trying to expand our family. Our bible study had been going through the book of Genesis. I was doing my reading a few days before to prepare for the study. This week’s study was over the story of Abram and Sarai. As I began reading I was pressed upon my heart by the Holy Spirit. I knew deep in my soul that I was being told that we would struggle with having a child. God told me this for a reason, He knew that I needed to be prepared but regardless it has been a difficult pill to swallow. I remember I told my husband what God had revealed to me but he actually did not believe what I had to say. We hadn’t started trying so therefore we had no evidence that this was in fact true. I would like to think that 2 ½ years of trying unsuccessfully to have a child has proven otherwise. So when other people try to say hopeful things or I feel the stirring of hope in my heart, don’t be surprised if I say something unhopeful in return or even if I laugh.
(Notice that in this blog I kept the names of Abram and Sarai rather than the names they were given when God blessed them and made his covenant with them. Part of that blessing involved the message that Sarai would bear a son. Because I believe that my husband and I have not heard a similar blessing, I have chosen to leave their names as Abram and Sarai. Maybe someday that will change)