Did Sarah Know?


In Genesis the Lord commanded Abraham to offer his only son as a sacrifice. Most of us remember this as a story of Abraham’s great faith in being obedient to the Lord’s command, yet there are other lessons to be learned.

Often lost in this story is the pain that Abraham and Sarah experienced being childless. I’ve never had to endure that trial but many have. For some it is years, still for others a lifetime. The interesting aspect of Abraham and Sarah’s childless trial is that they are promised by the Lord, on numerous occasions, that he would be a “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4) and Sarah is told she will be a “mother of nations” (vs. 16) , yet they are still childless. Imagine how much faith it would take from them, to endure, not only childlessness, but the hope for fulfillment of promises from the Lord. They would wait till he was a hundred and she in her nineties to see its fruition! Prior to that, Sarah, thinking that she no longer is able to bear children, feels so desperate that she even gives of her handmaiden to her husband in order to have a child she might call her own. The ensuing problems that come about by the birth of Ishmael to her handmaiden, create dynamics in the family that become intolerable for Sarah. The story of Abraham and Sarah’s childlessness is at the center of this great story because it sets up the magnitude of the sacrifice that the Lord requires of them later on in life. By placing ourselves, emotionally, in the position of Abraham and Sarah, we can better understand the elevated pain they are in when the Lord asks for the sacrifice of Isaac, their only offspring.

While it is clear that Abraham and Isaac are willing to go forward with the Lord’s request, the record is silent as to Sarah’s reaction. I would like to think that Abraham and Sarah were together in their faith and obedience. But since nothing is mentioned regarding Sarah, we are left to wonder. Perhaps she wasn’t aware of it at all. But regardless, I am certain that Abraham would have to know that sacrificing Isaac would eventually come to the attention of his wife. What would that have been like; telling her? And even if Sarah knew, would she hold it against him for the rest of their lives? Abraham’s example of obedience becomes even more powerful once you take into consideration the ramifications it will have on his marriage.

It is important in our scripture reading we don’t let the characters presented become “flat” or one-dimensional. If we can see the characters as “real” people, they become more inspiring! I think that is why Nephi taught that “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (2 Nephi 19:23) If we place ourselves in their shoes, we can gain a stronger testimony of the principles that we are being taught. The stories become closer to our hearts, and we can draw strength from them. They will be more than just “nice feel” stories. As illustrated in the story of Abraham and Sarah, they will serve as “real” reminders to us that the Lord keeps his promises, no matter how unlikely it seems.

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