In HER Shoes: Sarah Week 4 – A new name

This week, our Mummy Meditations verse focused on God changing Sarah’s name from Sarai to Sarah. This was after Sarah’s many mistakes, including giving her slave Hagar to Abram so Hagar could have his baby – read Rachel’s thoughts on that event in her post from last week Taking matters into our own hands.

Our verses this week had a much more positive focus: “God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

I have to say, from studying Sarah, I have so much sympathy for her. She really does go through a tough time. She’s barren, with all the stigma and shame that carried at the time. Her husband passes her off as his sister, and she ends up married to two kings. At the same time, God has promised her husband that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky… Well, I can understand why she gets frustrated and takes things into her own hand.

But in this week’s verses, we see God’s attention turn directly to Sarai. He speaks to Abram, now renamed Abraham, reflecting that he will be the father of many nations.  Now God confirms that it will be Sarai who will be the mother of these nations.

What’s in a name?

We spent some time in our Facebook community this week discussing names: what they meant to us and why we chose our children’s names. Names are important. They are part of our identity. They can give us something to live up to.

So what a name Sarah has to live up to. Many of us will already know that Sarah, or Sarai, means ‘Princess.’ But now, for the first time, God confirms that she will become the mother.

What’s in an age?

Here’s the thing. At this point in the story, Sarah is 90 years old. Even if Abraham and Sarah didn’t age in quite the same way we age now, she is still well past the age of childbearing. For her to conceive now would indeed be a miracle. Yet through this change in her name, God promises that miracle.

Our name is not just our identity

We remember Sarah for being Isaac’s mother. For being, indeed, the Mother of Nations. But there is much, much more to her than that. All those years of waiting, of questioning, of doubting and of hoping… This name change was 25 years after God’s promise to Abraham. She must have spent those 25 years wondering if she really was to become the mother of nations, or if another woman was. When I think about that, when I put myself in Sarah’s shoes, I have so much sympathy for her.

In some ways, I think this name change could have been a new start for Abraham and Sarah. They were renamed, given a new identity. Perhaps this foreshadows the idea of being born again in the New Testament. It certainly would have given Sarah a new way of thinking about herself.

I will… Surely…

I love the vocabulary in these verses. The phrase ‘I will bless her’ is repeated twice. I love the adverb ‘surely:’ ‘I will surely give you a son by her.’ There is no doubting God’s words. There is a sense of certainty and surety. After all these years of doubting and questioning, those words must have been heard with great joy.

Next week:

Next week, Rachel will be looking at these verses, as we start to see Sarah’s story resolve:

“So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Genesis 18:12

I really hope you can join us!

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