as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
1 Peter 3:6 ESV
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22 ESV
And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
I couldn’t imagine being in Sarah’s position as she walked out the events we read about in Genesis 20. I wonder if she was thinking back to the events in Egypt. They had been traveling because of a famine. As they had entered Egypt, Abraham, afraid of the people, had Sarah tell everyone she was his sister, not his wife. Talk about a backhanded compliment! “Honey, you are the most beautiful woman on earth–so beautiful my life is in danger because of you! Now lie for me so that they don’t kill me.” Not sure we could find that one on a Hallmark card.
Yet regardless how that conversation may have sounded at the time, Abraham’s plan had eventually backfired. And now in Genesis 20, Sarah is again faced with a similar situation. As they enter Gerar, Abraham proclaims Sarah as his sister, and Sarah goes along with it. She doesn’t contradict him in front of Abimelech. She doesn’t cry out, “Oh no you don’t, Abe! I’m not going through this again! No way am I going to let everyone believe I’m not your wife! I may be physically beautiful, but in no way am I going to submit to your foolish schemes!” If she had been thinking it (which I doubt she was), she didn’t speak it. Genesis 20:5 states she specifically responded with “He is my brother.”
Yes, Sarah was willing to be subject to Abraham’s authority, even if the outcome was filled with uncertainty.
And it is this situation that came to mind as I read 1 Peter 3 the other day. In the section regarding how wives must behave, Peter explains we are to be submissive like Sarah: we are to be submissive even when it is frightening. Yes, even when it is frightening.
Now I must insert here that I am in no way implying we are to submit to abuse. God does not call us to abuse. If you are in an abusive situation, please remove yourself from it and get help.
What I am talking about is fear of the unknown, fear of what may happen, and fear of what others may think. We are not to be afraid of the possible outcomes of submitting to our husbands. Instead we must trust God’s ability to guide and to protect us with every step. I am sure Sarah was a bit fearful as King Abimelech brought her into his home as his wife. The what ifs had to be overwhelming. Nevertheless, amidst the memories of the past and the uncertainty of the future, Sarah trusted that God knew her heart and God would protect her. And God did. God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and prevented the unspeakable from happening.
I am sure you know God calls us to scary places sometimes. When He does, it is not our responsibility to know how it will all turn out; it is our responsibility to obey His call while trusting in His sovereignty. In the same way, we as wives are called to submit to our husbands as to the Lord, even when doing so is frightening. No, we don’t have to be door mats, but we must be willing to be subject to their authority. We must be willing to honor our husband’s God-given authority. We must be willing to follow our husband’s lead knowing God has our backs. We must go forth each day knowing our protection doesn’t depend upon our ability to call the shots; it resides in our willingness to submit. As Proverbs 3:25-26 encourages us, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” In other words, we must trust in God’s sovereignty and protection as we follow God’s command to submit to our husbands as to Him.
I’m not sure what situation you may be faced with today. Maybe your husband, in your opinion, isn’t making wise choices. Maybe your husband wants to take a risk you believe unwise. Maybe your husband feels called to something that requires you to walk way outside of your comfort zone. Is a move in your future? Are finances being stretched? Or is there something you desire to do that your husband does not want you to do? Whatever it is that may have you afraid or asking why this morning, I encourage you to go before God and surrender. Surrender your fears. Surrender your misgivings. And then obey what God calls you to do. Obey God’s voice. And when God calls you to submit, then submit. Submit to your husband as to God, even if doing so his scary. For as you do, you can know that God sees your heart. God sees your faithfulness. And the God who sees in secret will one day reward you openly.
Keep on keeping on my friend. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Keep obeying. Keep running the race that it set before you with diligence. Keep serving our Savior in everything you say and do, even in submission, knowing that one day it will all be worth it as you hear your Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 5:23).