Lately, I have not been feeling great. My shoulders are tense, my neck is sore, and, as a result, my head has been hurting. I haven’t been sleeping very well, and my eating patterns have been pretty erratic. I’ve been frustrated and angry a lot lately, letting little things bother me that normally wouldn’t hit me quite like this.
For me, each of these external signs reflects an internal problem that needs to be addressed. When my shoulders are tense, I know I am stressed. When I begin to crave loads of sweets and seek comfort in glorious carbs, I know I am distressed or sad. When I take on the form of a couch potato, I know I am carrying far more than my fair share.
If I’m not careful, I will look outside of myself to solve a problem instead of looking within. I can fall into the trap of treating the symptom instead of the root.Do you ever look outside of yourself to solve a problem instead of looking within? Sarah does… Click To Tweet
Problem Solving in the Bible
In the Bible, Sarah provides a clear example of someone who tried to solve an internal problem with an external solution. She was Abraham’s wife and was unable to have children. During these early Bible times, a woman’s main job was to have and raise children. They were expected to give their husbands an heir to pass their wealth onto and carry the family name forward. If you were a woman in those days who couldn’t have children, you couldn’t find a fulfilling career elsewhere. You would’ve been left with loads of time to contemplate your body’s inability to fulfill your society-given duty.
If I were Sarah, I likely would’ve felt like a failure. I would’ve seen myself as a huge disappointment. I would probably be angry at my body for letting my husband and me down. And I likely would’ve been mad at God for not giving me the ability to fulfill what I thought was my purpose. My guess is that Sarah felt some or all of those things, she just didn’t share them with anyone. In fact, she might not have even been aware of these feelings herself.
Things Don’t Always Go As Planned
Instead of processing through her hurt and doubt, fear and pain, worries and insecurities, she decided to take matters into her own hands and help God out. And, let’s be honest, we’ve all probably done this in little and big ways before. She thought that if she gave Abraham a son (even if the son came through her servant), then she would be fulfilled. Maybe her meddling would fill that hole in her heart that shame had so generously dug for her.
As you can imagine, her plan worked out terribly. Sarah’s servant, Hagar, had a son named Ishmael, and the jealousy Sarah had probably been suppressing all her life rushed to the surface. Her anger at herself came out in the form of cruelty toward her servant. Her perfect plan worked, yet she felt just as lousy as before.
Years later, God fulfilled his promise to Abraham and Sarah, and she had a son named Isaac. I’m sure in her mind, he was going to be the perfect fulfillment of all of her dreams. She finally had a child to dole out all of her love and had a strong son who would carry on the family’s legacy—she had purpose again. Sadly, even the addition of what she wanted didn’t make everything better in her life. Her anger and jealousy still remained.
Can You Relate? Because I Can…
I deeply relate to Sarah’s story because I know what it’s like to believe that if I just get ________ then all my problems will be solved. If I quit my job, then I’ll be happy. If I move into that neighborhood, then I’ll have community. If I just lose that extra weight, then I’ll feel good about myself. But what I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that those external fixes are good for a moment, but never address the underlying issue.
- Maybe I don’t need to quit my job, perhaps I need to learn contentment.
- Maybe I don’t need to be wafer thin, perhaps I need to seek health instead.
- Maybe I don’t need to buy those things, perhaps I need to learn generosity.
- Maybe I don’t need to date that person, perhaps I need to strengthen my relationship with God.
Here’s the Good News
We all have things lurking below the surface of our lives that haven’t yet healed. But the good news is that our God doesn’t want us to just go through the motions of life, putting band-aids on bullet wounds, seeking our joy in external things. He longs for us to come to Him so He can heal the brokenness we feel so that we don’t take it into the next job, community, church, or relationship. He wants us to find our identity, fulfillment, and purpose in Him, instead of seeking external things to fill the gaps.
I believe that we can learn from Sarah’s mistakes and run to our good and kind Father, exposing our deepest fears, worries, and insecurities to Him. Thankfully, He’s not scared of our messes, but continues to embrace us, no matter our failure or sins. Let’s run to Him today!
Join the Conversation
Obviously things don’t always go as planned. How do you handle it when you’re stressed out and looking for an easy solution? Do you remember to turn to Jesus and rest in His embrace? Join the conversation in the comments below.