TITLE: Sarah's Triumph
By Arlene Showalter
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Sarah stood motionless, vacant eyes turned to the water before her. Moments before, she had flung her wedding ring with all her strength. Instantly, it disappeared on its short journey to the bottom.
Unconsciously rubbing her recently denuded finger, Sarah’s mind raced with unanswerable questions. What did I do wrong? Why did he leave me? What shall I do now?
Sky and river alike matched her mood; deep, depressing gray. Raindrops
mingled with teardrops as Sarah turned and plodded home. Dogged determination alone moved one foot in front of the other, each step screaming, why, why, why?
Morning found Sarah slumped over her coffee cup. Idly, her finger circled the cup’s rim. One revolution. She thought of the day she married. All the hopes, promises, dreams. Another circle. The day she became a mother. Around and around, she traced twenty-four years, stopping at the day her husband walked out the door.
There had been no fights, no indication of unhappiness. Mid-life crisis? Who knew? She thought of the lonely nights. Truthfulness pushed its way to the surface. All the years she’d made excuses for his lack of interest in her as a woman, a partner, a friend.
Her spirit died the day he left. Suddenly the comfortable “we” of many years returned to “me” again. Who am I, anyway? What am I worth now? Despair threatened to choke her. Tired eyes fell on her well-worn Bible.
Hadn’t she done all the right things, honoring her husband as the Bible taught? Where was God when Ben grew distant? She made no demands. Just kept loving him and hoping. Didn’t the Bible talk a lot about hope? And prayer? She had hoped and prayed, but he abandoned her anyway. He didn’t care, and perhaps God didn’t either.
Sarah gathered her thoughts, tightly wrapping them around her lifeless heart like a blanket . Suddenly, the phone’s jangling disturbed her. Impatiently, she reached for her cordless.
“Sarah, this is Emma. I can’t get you off my mind. How are you?”
“Fine.” Perhaps short answers would discourage Emma into hanging up quickly.
“You don’t sound fine.” Emma was not one for tact. She always said exactly what she sensed. “I want you to come to a prayer meeting with me.” It wasn’t an invitation; it was an order.
Inwardly, Sarah groaned, frantically searching her mind for excuses, knowing Emma would accept none. Perhaps she’d better just agree to go.
“OK. When and where?”
“Tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at 3:00.”
Sarah did not know what she’d expected at a prayer meeting, but surely not the warm reception she received from a dozen women. As they worshipped and prayed, God’s presence came to her in a tangible way. Suddenly Sarah was alone with her Lord.
At first, she could not get past the crushing hurt of abandonment. While her heart screamed for answers to questions which had dogged every waking moment, God waited.
Her thoughts raged on and on. She even dared to accuse God of desertion at the time she needed him most. Why hadn’t God stopped Ben from leaving? Quietly, God waited.
At last Sarah ran out of questions, her anger spent. Deafening silence enveloped her mind, soul and spirit. Her broken, confused heart lay shattered at God’s feet.
Purposefully, God reached down, tenderly gathering each piece to himself. At length he spoke, piercing the depths of her being.
“My precious Sarah, I love you,” he began. “I knew Ben would leave you before you were born. You had free will to love him. He had free will to leave you. You thought the strength of your love could change him to love you in return. You made him your project, your mission. But nobody has the right to change another, not even through love.
“You allowed your identity to be swallowed up in Ben. You thought being his wife is who you are. My dearest daughter, these subtle deceptions have caused others to falter and fall. Many have blamed me for these failures.
“Your value does not come from being a wife, a mother, or from a job. Your value comes from me, because I created you. You are my beloved daughter. Never allow a human being to determine your value.
“I allowed this heartbreak to clarify your understanding of who you are and who I am. I want you to understand your true purpose in life. You are to be my hands and feet to suffering people. Open your eyes, my precious one, and see the sorrow all about you.”
Sarah lay prostrate as God spoke. She sensed his intense love for her. She sensed his trust in her, his confidence that she would rise above her painto touch others.
A few days later, Sarah slapped at her insistent alarm clock. She bounded out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Her reflection in the mirror startled her. Were those her lips curled in a small smile? Were those her eyes sparkling in anticipation?
“This is the day the Lord has made,” she intoned in mock severity. “I will rejoice and be glad in it!”
A few hours later, Sarah ran into a coworker she barely knew in the lunchroom. Without warning, the woman began pouring out her story.
Gently, Sarah placed a hand on the woman’s arm. “I know” she said quietly. “First, let’s start with who you are….”
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