Moving Past Mistakes

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By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful.

Hebrews 11:11

Sarah often gets blamed for lack of faith when she urged Hagar upon Abraham. But a closer reading reveals a startling fact: God did not promise Abraham a son through Sarah until more than a decade after Ishmael had been born. Perhaps she thought bearing a son through her maidservant was God’s plan all along.

Her faith is what is held up as an example in the Hall of Faith found in the book of Hebrews. Trying circumstances work out our faith — breaking down fragile hope and rebuilding robust hope in the strength of Christ. They expose faith in our own strength and wisdom, and they exercise our faith so that we will increasingly put our hope and confidence in Christ and his promises instead.

With twenty-twenty hindsight, we see her mistake. But apparently, this was an accepted practice in that era. After all, four of the twelve tribes – Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali – were born to maidservants.

When God’s plan didn’t match Sarah’s expectations, she added her own spin. Did she pray about it? We are not told. If she had prayed…if she had waited…if Abraham had said no…if, if, if. What we do know is that once God promised Sarah, she would be a mother, she believed.

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

Genesis 17:19

Many of us have at least one “if only” in our lives. Like Sarah, our mistakes don’t end our usefulness to God. If we stumble, let us acknowledge our error and move forward with confidence because the One who promises is faithful.

In His grace,


Women of Faith series