Having previously written two articles on women in the New Testament (“Women in 2 Timothy” and “Women in Titus”), there is but a brief reference to women in Hebrews. Nevertheless, there are some things that we can gain from that which we read.
In the great “hall of faith” (chapter 11) there is reference to Abraham’s wife, Sarah. That which is known about Sarah is little, but what is known paints a picture that is both positive and not so much. The ASV reads: “By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11). Yet, when one compares this with that which the book of Genesis says, we might wonder where her faith was.
And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And Jehovah said unto Abraham, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is anything too hard for Jehovah? At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.” Then Sarah denied, saying, “I laughed not;” for she was afraid. And he said, “Nay; but thou didst laugh.” (Genesis 18:12-15, ASV)
It seems rather clear that Sarah was not one who believed the Lord when this promise was initially given to her from the Lord. In Genesis Sarah had her doubts; in Hebrews she had none. It appears we have a problem between two sentiments expressed.
But do we?
There is little reason to wonder why Sarah had her doubts. She was an old woman, even by the standards of that day (Genesis 18:12). Yes, she knew that her husband had received a promise, an encouraging word concerning that which would come from his loins, but the natural processes of life wherein child-bearing was possible/probable had come and gone for women such as Sarah. In part, this is the point of the Lord’s promise to both Abraham and Sarah – He is not constricted by the natural processes of life.
Sarah, learning this, and feeling humbled by the Lord’s rebuke to her, had a new outlook on the promise given to her husband. She was now taking it as a promise to her also.
There is a great lesson in this for us. It may be that doubts exists within us. We might ask, however, why is it that doubts exists within us (me). After taking some thought (2 Corinthians 13:5) and after reflecting on the steadfastness of the Lord, we should allow those doubts to fade away. No doubt Sarah did, and those doubts she had began to wane away. Thus the Holy Spirit is able to say that in faith she received power to conceive seed.