emilynisch

“do not give way to fear”

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:32 am

Today I found this verse:

For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
(1 Pet 1:5-6)

I realized that if there’s friction in a marriage, the woman’s part in it is often (or always?) caused by fear. Sarah submitted to Abraham and called him her master – overcoming the fear that she probably felt in leaving her country and family, traveling unknown destination, traveling to countries where Abraham expected hostility (so he told Sarah to say she was his sister) – and perhaps even fear from her barrenness as she grew older and still had not seen God’s promise fulfilled. Abraham’s life was more full of risk and uncertainty than many people’s lives. I imagine people around him wondered where he thought he was going, or if he even knew. He expected hostility everywhere he traveled and lived among foreign people who he expected would take advantage of him.

It would have been easy for Sarah to doubt Abraham. She could have wondered whether he had actually heard God speak to him; whether he knew where he was leading them, or whether he was wandering aimlessly around the countryside, vulnerable to all kinds of danger; whether God was good for his word – how were they going to have children at such an old age?; and more. Instead she chose this path: “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands….” (1 Pet 3:5)

Here’s the key: Women who put their hope in God can submit to their husbands.

Instead of fear, Sarah chose to put her hope in God. This allowed her to continue choosing to call her husband master and submit to him – through every uncertainty and situation. And finally, this caused her to be beautiful in her husband’s sight: “[Your beauty] should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Pet 3:4)

I believe that Peter shares this teaching because women are particularly prone to fear in regard to their husband and marriage – we see a husband as the key to whether our world goes well or poorly. I’m sure many women think, “He’s ruining my life. If only he was…. If only he did….” Sarah more cause to think this way than many women as she wandered around wilderness following her husband and submitting to him. Instead she followed God’s nature and submitted to her husband – hoping in him for her life and her good. I imagine her looking around as she traveled through new countrysides. She could easily wondered why her life consisted in so much dusty wandering, unpacking and repacking, new people, grumbling servants, schemes and discussions about how to make it alive through the next territory. In our terms – would her husband ever settle down to a steady job and provide for her, would he be successful and respected in his community, would he value her God-given gifts and individuality, would he continue to be sensitive to her need for the gentle love and care in dealing with her barrenness?

Instead, she did the one thing that honestly was in her power: she made herself beautiful to her husband – by submitting to him, and this way nourishing his soul. As she gazed across the countryside to the horizon, her eyes stayed grounded but her mind and heart lifted heavenward – trusting that God is bringing good in her situation despite what she sees around her. It is her hope that nourishes her, as does her submission to her husband. She nourishes him with her inner beauty that flows outward in her gentle and quiet spirit, and with her trust in him, which helps him to trust himself and his leading. From this Godly relationship flows good to everyone and everything around them – as it still does. Look at everything God did through Abraham, who “believed God…” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23) Sarah did her part well, and God came through for her in the end.

*As a disclaimer, Sarah wasn’t perfect. She encouraged Abraham to have a child with her servant, Hagar – thus causing trouble. But, what Peter says is true. 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