The theme for the 2018 General Assembly is “Forward: Reaching the Marginalized by Encouraging, Empowering, and Embracing.” The obvious people who come to mind would be those on the perimeter: minorities, the disabled, the impoverished, autistic children and their parents, mentally challenged, caretakers for Alzheimers, and so on. However, within the church we have other groups who are equally marginalized; who are unintentionally excluded from the general population.
Sometimes we become aware of them when they don’t fit into the way we organize groups, either by age or cultural connections. But many times we fail to consider a group of women who are often neglected due to their marital or motherhood status.
Because I am a visual learner- as some of you may be- and see the Bible as a “living picture book,” I would like you to listen to a familiar story from a very personal perspective- the story of Sarah and Abraham as told in Genesis 18. I love this story, which tells us about Sarah’s inability to conceive a child. Then, one day when she overhears the Lord telling Abraham of her future pregnancy, she laughs!
All of us grew up having dreams; dreams of family, a career, or travel. We are very much aware that most little girls grow up playing with dolls and dreaming of the day when they will be married and have a baby of their own. Sarah was no different. When she married Abraham she hoped to soon become pregnant. Not only were women in this culture respected for giving birth, they were often shamed if they were not able to conceive.
Can you imagine her disappointment when, year after year, she could not give Abraham the son he desired? Imagine for a moment that we are living in this time. Imagine for a moment that you are Sarah…
Imagine that you are living in Sarah and Abraham’s community. Once a week all of the ladies who live in the tents in her neighborhood get together to enjoy a cup of tea and catch up on the latest news of their families. Every week or so, one of the women in the group announce that they are expecting a baby. Sarah listens with her head and dies a little more in her heart. When is it going to be her turn, she wonders? As she weaves booties and sweaters for the new one to be born in a few months, she dreams of the day when the baby shower might be for her.
Sarah spends her young adult years attending all of the soccer games for the children in her neighborhood. She listens to the other women as they discuss the newest and cutest things that each child was doing and learning. Their conversation is almost always focused on the children. But what does Sarah have to offer? She is happy for them, but never feels like she is part of the group. She is always an outsider.
She waits and cries. And waits some more. Her dream is dying. And then physically she is no longer a young women. Her body continues to age and her ability to conceive is eventually a non-issue. Her dream is gone!
Many decades later at the age of 90, God says that she will bear a son to Abraham. And she laughs! Is this an appropriate response from the woman who prayed for most of her life for a child of her own? Let’s not be too quick to judge her. How would you respond?
Sarah is not much different than many of us. Over the years, I have talked to many women of all ages who have been emotionally troubled over their apparent barren condition. They wonder why God would give them such a strong desire for motherhood but not fulfill this dream. I also know this feeling well.
And even if we have not specifically prayed for children, how many times have we prayed for something else that seemed nearly impossible? All the while not totally confident that God would, or even could, answer our prayer? How often do we pray because we think we should and not because we have our entire heart and soul invested in whatever is before us?
There have been times in my own life when I have tried to circumvent God’s plan and jumped ahead of Him, not willing to wait but instead trying to do things my own way. Thankfully, our Lord has patience that exceeds all human ability of understanding. Ultimately, Abraham and Sarah trusted God and He answered their desire for a son.
God was incredibly patient with Sarah. He forgave her for not trusting Him and for taking matters into her own hands. And for laughing and not believing Him. And yet He accomplished His will. In His time.
I’m glad that God has a sense of humor and sees me for who I really am. He understands my disappointments and brings comfort and peace to me when I most need it. Our God IS a god of the impossible! Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
What dream or dreams have not yet been fulfilled for you? Or for those you love? There IS still time in God’s economy! Or maybe God will remove the painful desires of your heart and replace them with something more wonderful.
So as we consider the idea of reaching the “marginalized” in our world, sometimes we need to look no further than our neighbor or sister and draw her to the only One who can heal. My prayer for us is that we will become more aware of all of those who are marginalized and shower them with God’s love so they may know Him and learn to faithfully trust Him to fulfill their dreams!
Kim Sinclair has been married to her husband, Doug, for almost 34 years. Although they were not able to have children, she has loved her Golden Retreivers over the years as her own family. Following her retirement after 36 years as an Executive Assistant in the corporate offices of General Motors, she assisted a friend in starting a home care business. Following this endeavor, she worked with Michigan Colleges Alliance for more than 7 years. In addition, Kim served for more than 15 years as the leader of Women’s Ministry in her local church, Grace Chapel in Farmington Hills, MI. She loves to entertain in her home and welcomes the opportunity to serve God by loving and serving others. Kim is currently a member of the EPC- Women’s Resource Council.