"Control-Freaks" in the Bible: Sarah's Impatience

Updated: Jun 17

If you know me, you know that I can be a bit of a "control-freak." I've been working on it by focusing on letting go and having bigger faith... And let me tell you, it's a PROCESS. Denying yourself, your desires, and your flesh, all the while submitting to God's will, is an everyday choice you have to make. If you find yourself struggling with these things, I'm here to tell you that you're not alone!

Martha in the new testament, for example, was kind of a control-freak. She was one of Jesus's closest friends and traveling companions, and her story inspired me to write Part 1 of this series. In Luke 10, Martha is uber anxious, constantly stressing over the little details and logistics of her situation. I can totally relate to Martha! It can be easy to get caught up in the details, to-do lists, and even our own expectations, especially when we like control.

But Jesus responds to Martha's anxiety in a very compassionate, loving way, and with His words, He reminds us of what truly matters... the "good portion," or our inheritance gifted to us from God.

"Inheritance, (or good portion) as used in Scripture, can refer to more than inherited property. It also has a theological significance. The Israelites came to learn that God Himself was the portion or inheritance of His people (Jeremiah 10:16)." (Got Questions)

Our inheritance is God Himself - through Jesus Christ - and all other things God provides, like the Holy Spirit which acts as a comfort, interceder during trials, advocate, and a spiritual fire that dwells within us! Pretty cool huh? (Want to know what else God provides? Check it out here and here). This good portion from God can never be taken away from us, so long that we believe in and accept Jesus and His sacrifice.

In the story of Martha, Jesus addresses her anxieties. Jesus essentially says to Martha - and to all of us - "why worry when you have all that you need... and it just so happens that it won't ever be taken away?"

We can rest assured that we need not worry and have anxiety over the fine details of life. But even those who don't necessarily worry over the details may still struggle with giving up control... That is, control-freaks aren't just anxious, but are often impatient too.

Let's look at the story of Sarah in the old testament. We'll start in Genesis 12:1-3 with the "Call of Abram." Sarah had some serious control-freak moments, all because she was impatient with God's timing.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Later in this passage, it's written that Abram was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4). It wouldn't be until Abram was renamed Abraham - 23 years and 7 chapters later - that God would plan to fulfill His promise to him and his wife. God renames Abram and Sarai in Genesis 17:5, and one year later, Sarai (now Sarah) gives birth to Isaac in her old age (Genesis 21).

"Sarai, like all of us, often faltered in her faith. God promised to make Abram the “father of many nations” (Gen. 17:4) but she was barren. So, like most conniving (or desperate) women, Sarai went into “fix-it” mode and gave Abram her maidservant Hagar to produce a son." (Barrier 2020)

The path to this point in Genesis 17:5 wasn't an easy one. Sarai/Sarah, in her impatience, tried to take things into her own hands and attempt to bring about God's promise through her maidservant Hagar. She had Abram/Abraham sleep with Hagar and give birth to Ishmael, thirteen years before her son Isaac would be born.

Oftentimes I think we are so quick to try to "fix" things into the way we want them to be, or in the way that our heart desires them to be. Or even, to try to bring about God's promises when we want them, which is often not in line with God's timing. I'm laughing and shaking my head because I know I'm guilty all too often of trying to change circumstances or relationships to try to fit a square peg in a round hole, just because I'm impatient. Just because I want it so bad, and I want it now.

God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child, but He didn't specify when that would happen for them. It was out of impatience and control that Sarah stepped in to try to fulfill a promise that only God could.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (Peter 3:9)

Sarah's story isn't as "rebellious" or "God-denying" as it seems. But in her own way, she was a control-freak. Several times prior to this particular passage, Sarah submitted herself to God's will and trusted Him to protect and provide for her, even when her husband Abraham didn't (Genesis 20:1-16). But as she grew in old age, waiting decades for the fulfillment of God's promise of descendants, and after leaving her home and traveling to foreign lands, I see why she would start to doubt God's promises. She probably felt like God had forgotten about them.

"Abram’s wife waited for an unfulfilled promise for decades. Had God forgotten her? She went through the mood swings and hot flashes of menopause with nary a sign of morning sickness. Abram, her husband had heard God speak, but Sarai had to trust her husband’s divine revelations. " (Barrier 2020)

It's funny because God usually uses this time of waiting to mature our faith, and even when we flee, or are impatient, or try to take things into our own hands, He has a way of bringing about His divinity and goodness. Unlike the short-term, human nature, God is all-seeing, all-knowing, and perfectly consistent in the deliverance of His character.

Don't think that just because you've been impatient or have tried to take control of a situation, that God can't still work His plan in your life. He still has a plan and His plans are to deliver on His promises. However, in order for that to happen, in order to be a part of that inheritance, you have to be willing to submit to His will, be patient, and allow Him to align your heart and your desires with His.

With time, everything comes about as He promises and at the end of the day, we will inherit the greatest gift of all; eternal life, as heirs to His kingdom... and that's on top of everything else He plans on giving to you! What an awesome God He is. God didn't promise that any of this life would be easy or fast, but He did promise to provide patience, mercy, faith, and more, as long as we pray for it. So with His help, our life journey can be less anxious/stressful, more fruitful, and more joyful.

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