An Example of the Power of Faith: Sarah, the Subject of Hebrews 11:11 -- By: Christine Mary Cos

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 25:1 (Winter 2011)
Article: An Example of the Power of Faith: Sarah, the Subject of Hebrews 11:11
Author: Christine Mary Cos


An Example of the Power of Faith:
Sarah, the Subject of Hebrews 11:11

Christine Mary Cos

Christine Mary Cos teaches and preaches at the First Baptist Church of Medfield, Massachusetts, and is a licensed minister with the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. She holds MAOT and M.Div. degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served as Minister of Education at Pilgrim Church in Beverly, Massachusetts.

And by faith, Sarah, herself, a barren [woman], received power for the purpose of depositing sperm [by Abraham], even though [at] a time of mature age, since she considered faithful the one who promised.1
Hebrews 11:11

Introduction

This past week, I learned that my friend Juliana gave birth to her first child, a beautiful son, whom she and her husband named Filip. She had not broadcast her pregnancy (even I did not know about it), but for good reason, I think: She did not want to get her hopes too high. Her first child had died in uterus, strangled by the umbilical cord.

Several years previously, a young Korean woman in our church had miscarried her first child. The sadness in her eyes made my heart break when she told me the news.

Thinking of my own mother’s reproductive challenges, I chose to tell my mother’s story to each of these hurting women, stressing the unassailable fact that I, my mother’s firstborn child, was living proof of God’s mercy and my mother’s willingness to trust despite her despair.

As I reflect on Genesis 3:16, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe,”2 I realize that barrenness, miscarriage, and stillbirths are part of that curse; the ability to be “fruitful and multiply” would be hindered for both genders and on many levels. The same adjective in the Hebrew text describes the woman’s childbearing (3:16) and the man’s ability to produce and provide food (3:17) as “anxious toil” (‘itsevon).3

Throughout the book of Genesis, the covenant theme, which runs throughout the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob narratives, contains an element of endangerment in the form of barren wives, where the principal wife of each of the three patriarchs is childless for the majority of their marriage. This motif provides an opportunity to demonstrate God’s sovereign ability to fulfill his covenant promise of children or descendents, namely, “seed” (zera’). In addition, it crea...

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