Saturday, June 2, 2012
Waiting on the Lord Genesis 21:1-8
Second patriarch; son of Abraham and Sarah. He was the child of a miracle, for at the time of his birth his mother, hitherto childless, was ninety years old, and his father a hundred. By the command of God the child was named "Isaac" (; in poetical language = "laughter"), because Abraham had, covertly, laughed in incredulity when, a year previously, he had received the promise of God that a son would be born to him by Sarah (Gen. xvii. 17); so also did Sarah as, standing at the door of the tent, she heard the promise reiterated by the angel (Gen. xviii. 12). Isaac was circumcised when he was eight days old, and at his weaning the parents manifested their joy by giving a great feast. As a solicitous mother Sarah urged Abraham to send away Ishmael, his son by the servant-maid Hagar, whom she had seen mocking Isaac. At first Abraham hesitated, but at the command of God he complied with the wish of his wife; Isaac was thus declared the sole heir of his father.
What joy you must have felt to realize the Lord's promise in your life, fulfilled. To give birth at the age of ninety, to see the miracle of birth restored to you, a woman whose time had passed, to understand the power of God is greater than the power of nature. What joy you must have felt as you felt your son's unborn life quicken within you. And how the women around you must have fussed over you, talked about you and your miracle. How it must have given them hope and taught them of faith in the God of Abraham.
If I could have been there? If I could have been a fly on the wall, what might I have heard? What might I have understood about your faith, your willingness to cleave unto your covenants? And the joy received because of your strength of faith.
I love Abraham's choice of a name for your son. Isaac. So strong and so joyful. A way for you to always remember how to rejoice. You must have known that it comes from the word Yitzhak, which in Hebrew means "laughing one," or as God's promise to you it also is a reminder of how your son is a "child of the promise." I suppose God could not allow you to call your son Yitzhak, laughing one because it has so many connotations, but Isaac, this means covenant and promise and rejoicing in the fulfillment of the promise. You are so blessed to be able to have a son you can call Isaac.
And your family was the first we know of to establish the custom of circumcision. I wonder how you dealt with this? Did you trust Abraham? Here he was with the child you were promised would bring you seed as the sands of the sea and he wants to do what? Clearly as a new custom of less than one year, it had not been fully accepted. I wonder if you understood? How much of your actions were based on faith and how much on reason. I wonder if Isaac's circumcision played a role in his reaching the age of three when he could be weaned? I applaud your faith. When my own sons were born I questioned it and did my own research.
According to our social custom, my sons were circumcised in the hospital within hours of birth.But I remember studying how important it is to circumcise at day eight because in days 5-7 a child experiences a rise in Vitamin K which then acts as a pain killer and prevents hemorrhaging. As proof that the medical community is aware of this my second son was born with a minor heart defect that required heart-valve surgery but the surgeons insisted on waiting to day 8 to preform it. I think it is amazing how the customs that we practice today came from revelation given to you and Abraham as you awaited the birth of a very much wanted son. I wonder how circumcision in young boys during your time helped prolong their life in a world where cleanliness was not as well established as it is today.
In today's world most women stop bearing children by the age of 45. And you were twice past this age? Abraham was one hundred. I think I have generational problems with my youngest? I am certain that you had housemaids help you teach your son. You had a network of family and servants to help him understand his social customs and his religious rituals. But there were no grandparents to help here because you had traveled away and Abraham's father had passed. There is no mention of your family being with you. I am thinking of how at each of my births I too was a traveler and although I could share the news with my family they were not able to attend the birth.
And you Sarah rejoiced at the birth of your son Isaac. You rejoiced at his growth and ability to thrive in a time when children rarely made it to their third birthday. You were able to wean your child and bring him to the table for meat and honey. What a joyful day. I read somewhere a while back that the Jewish celebration of weaning was put in place to celebrate the child's ability to thrive and survive. It was a very important day. And Isaac's weaning was significant because it proved the Lord's love once again. It showed how the Lord was not only able to keep to his promise of giving Abraham a son, but he would help him thrive and survive.
I wanted to say also that as I read "who would have said unto Abraham that Sarah should have given children suck?" I realized that you didn't use a wet nurse, but you nursed the child yourself. Wow. Another miracle. What a powerful message for God to send to all the world. He is in charge of life and birth and the milk that flows from our breasts. Having nursed six children I am very much aware of the importance it holds in passing on immunity and vitamins and fat and all of the necessary nutrition to help a child survive.
Sarah so much is lost in your story of how you gave birth. So much is not considered because words can only tell us what happened. As a woman I am aware of your pain, your joy and your rejoicing because you chose to cleave tight to your covenants and believe in a God that promised you more than nature could itself provide.
Your spiritual granddaughter