September 16, 2014

Seeing Blessings Afar Off

James E. Talmage said “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Jesus the Christ)

Women are bombarded with ALL kinds of messages today. Who should we be? Should I have a career? How many children should I have? What should I look like? You’ll find all different kinds of answers from all different kinds of people.

The next few Blog Posts are going to be about some of my HEROES in the scriptures: WOMEN Heroes.

See if you can relate to any of these descriptions of women…
They plead, mourn, suffer, praise, show faith, sometimes complain…
Bear children, pray, fear, cry, convert
We summon, make merry, are comforted… sometimes we sin
We love, we mother, we hide, flee…
Believe, have broken hearts, we toil, we sing, dance and charm
Sometimes we are rude
Sometimes we are overcome
In the midst of all these things… we are often described as…  strong
And tender… mothers, daughters, sisters 

Did ANY of that describe you? Did much of that describe you?
All of those descriptions were taken FROM THE SCRIPTURES – describing women!
We are separated from these women by vast cultural differences, by 1000’s of miles, and by 1000’s of years and YET I submit that we have much in common with them.
They, like us, worried about their families. They struggled raising children, they worked at relationships with their husbands, parents, siblings. They had to work within their neighborhoods and communities. They dealt with wickedness. And they felt the same kind of sorrows and they celebrated the same kinds of JOYS.
We can look these – our Sisters in the Scriptures and learn valuable lessons.

Sarah:  (Genesis 11-25)
More space of scripture is dedicated to Sarah than any other woman in the Bible. I believe it is because she is the “Mother” of the Covenant. With Abraham she was promised that the great nation of God’s covenant children would come through her. Pretty big deal!
Sarah started in Ur… a splendid beautiful city. She left all the modern comforts of that great city to go into the wilderness. She arrived in Haran. Did she settle and begin her wonderful family with lots of little children running around her home? No.
They left Haran to go to a Promised Land. They ended up in Egypt! Does she settle there and start having babies? Nope. In fact, she must “pretend” she is Abraham’s sister and she is taken by Pharaoh!
How is she doing with fulfilling this great Promise? She’s not even with her husband anymore! I imagine she is feeling some feelings of anxiety, unfulfilled expectations, and  disappointment. I imagine she may have some feelings of “This is not at all what I thought was going to happen? Not at all how I imagined my life being?”
Have YOU ever felt that way?
There may also be some added feelings of “I’ll never get this promise/blessing – it is proving impossible.” She’s about 65 years old at this point!

Lesson: Sarah must have had incredible FAITH to endure these trials.

FINALLY they left Egypt and arrived in Canaan. HURRAY! Now she’ll start popping those babies out, right?  Wrong! 20 years passed by (now 85) and it seems the only obvious answer is to give Hagar to Abraham to have the children. It seems like a good answer. She’s just trying to be creative and productive in accomplishing this blessing.

Lesson: Obvious” is a relative term – where God is concerned!

I believe it was still, in a sense, an act of faith. She knew this blessing needed to be fulfilled and she must have been thinking “Okay, I don’t understand but I guess it’s meant to come through Hagar.” It might have been a more shortsighted bit of faith but I think it still took some faith to do that.
Imagine how difficult it must have been. She knew the covenant went from Abraham ato her a to her family ato a people/a nation(Israel) a to the WORLD! Imagine how her heart must have been aching.

Finally the holy men come to visit and announce she WILL conceive! Impossible! Right?

Camille Fronk Olson said this “Anyone who has long sought fulfillment of a righteous desire, daily praying and at times pleading with God to grant a miracle, can relate to Sarah’s waiting a lifetime for a child. The most feasible time to be granted the promised desire passes and no scenario that even approximates the dream can be imagined. Then, at the least probable time, when every circumstance underscores that fulfillment is impossible, the Spirit whispers that God has kept His promise and will now bestow the blessing.” (Women of the Old Testament, pg. 41)
She is 90 years old when she gives birth to Isaac and they lived happily ever after and never had another test again. Right?
No! The Lord asked them to sacrifice Isaac.

Another great Lesson we learn from Sarah: Just because we have survived one test doesn’t mean we’re done! We are challenged and tested throughout our ENTIRE life! Even when we are 100 years old if necessary!! 

I believe this test to sacrifice Isaac included Sarah.  She and Abraham were covenanted husband & wife. Every test, trial and struggle they had faced so far - they faced together as husband & wife.
Can we even imagine the kind of FAITH this test required? Sarah died at 127 years. They didn't even own land yet in Canaan. They were wandering in tents.  Isaac, their only son, is not yet married and certainly not having grandchildren for this great family that is supposed to be as numerous as the sands of the sea! The Promise, at this point, has not even been fulfilled! Therefore, our last and most important lesson from Sarah actually comes from Hebrews 11:8-13. Paul, after listing off many great people – including Sarah, who accomplished incredible things through faith, then says:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

I LOVE that verse!

Lesson: Having Patience and an eternal perspective; seeing the blessings “afar off” is essential to our success in this life. We must remember those blessings and “embrace” those promises! If we are true and faithful to our covenants ALL promises and blessings WILL be fulfilled! We may have to wait months… we may have to wait years… we may have to wait a LIFETIME… BUT they will come!


  1. I love stories of strong, righteous, Christlike women. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights on Sarah.

  2. I loved this!! I think I often times pass over the wonderful women of the scriptures. I love the parallel you drew at the beginning of the post between women in the scriptures and women today. When reading the list, I was thinking, "I feel that way!... I've thought that!"