Loneliness & The Long Obedience
Do you know about Sarah, the wife of Abraham, found in Genesis 12? At first, her name was Sarai, which means princess. Surely, she was her father’s princess. One day Sarai’s husband came to her with a vision from God. They would leave. Everything.
Not only was Sarai to say goodbye to her country, but her family as well. Sarah took her possessions; but she could not take her family. You see, even though Abram (her husband) and she had been married for several years, they had no children.
Barrenness. In Biblical times, infertility was seen as a sign of shame, God’s disapproval, and an inability to be a real woman. Do we often feel similar emotions because of our empty heart? Although I’ve never struggled with infertility, I have felt an ache of emptiness. An empty heart from depression and anxiety, an empty place at the table when a loved one dies, an empty home when friends fail to visit.
Loneliness is a sign of being empty. And I’m sure that Sarah’s heart ached with the sting of the loneliness a childless woman feels. Suddenly, things were changing in her home as well. When her husband announced his God-given vision to the family, did they scoff and disapprove? Did Sarai want to agree to such terms? Leave her family, comfort, and home … for what?
God did not tell them where they would go. God did not tell them anything other than that He would show them the way and would make Abram a father of many nations. A father? Surely Sarai laughed with pain as she glanced down at her empty womb.
They left their home, taking only one relative (who abandoned them in the end). Through it all, Sarai obeyed. God eventually changed her and her husband’s names, from Sarai to Sarah and from Abram to Abraham. This is found in Genesis 17. Read what their new names meant:
As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. Genesis 17:4-5
And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Genesis 17:15-16
God changed their names because it was a sign of His promise to them. Their God was going to give them a son. Not only a son, but a nation. So she believed. Over and over God gave her the faith, the strength, and the laughter to withstand the waiting.
In the waiting Sarah obeyed. If you’re like me, you like to skip ahead to the part of the story where God fulfills Sarah’s desire and gives her a son. Let’s step back though and not rush ahead. Let’s linger a little on the hard parts of Sarah’s lonely journey. Leaving her family (which probably included nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, and maybe even parents), was not something Sarah signed up for.
Did Sarah feel the ache of loneliness in the first few months of wandering in the desert? The longing for familiar foods, customs, and comforts surely came to Sarah’s mind as she walked with her husband into the literal unknown wilderness. Sarah’s life is chronicled in Genesis, but let’s look at what Hebrews 11:11 says about Sarah:
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11
How did Sarah remain faithful all of the years she felt the sting of loneliness, barrenness, and heartache? Faith. The secret to Sarah’s life of obedience was faith in God and faith in His promises. Do you see how she “judged” God faithful? The word “judged” in the Greek is hēgeomai, which means “to count, have authority, or to think.”
Sarah relinquished control to God and let Him rule, reign, and take precedence in her life. Not just because He was God, but because she truly believed God’s promises. In the long days, weeks, months, and years of emptiness, filled with loneliness for sure, Sarah endured through her long obedience. The daily long obedience it takes to live a life of faith.
If we are going to live a life of long obedience, we have choose to trust God’s promises. Do we believe God will do all He has said He will do? What would change in our lives if we really believed, like Sarah, that God is able to keep His promises?
I’m not saying God will cure our loneliness right away. We might not receive the child we have been waiting for or be cured from disease. Our life might still look lonely, but when you believe the promises God has for you, that is a life of hope.
The next few days, weeks, and months might seem long, but don’t give into the lonely feelings. Fight them with small acts of obedience – starting even today. Reading your Bible is a great place to start, especially if it has been a long time since you’ve read it. You can get my Bible study guide here – for FREE!
Sarah E. Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor at sarahefrazer.com. She is the wife of Jason and mother of five who all serve as full-time missionaries in Honduras. Her passion is to encourage women to fall in love with the Bible. Sarah is the author of several Bible study resources for women. She share tools for deep-rooted Bible study at sarahefrazer.com. Follow her on Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/sarah_e_frazer) and join her free prayer challenge at sarahefrazer.com/prayer