So I might be the only woman in the whole world who feels this way, but I hate it when women’s ministers talk about how we’re all “princesses.” As soon as that word hits the air, I immediately start imagining girls with bad perms in fluffy pink dresses with giant puffy sleeves stuck in a tower somewhere.
That is not the kind of woman I want to be. I do not want to be a wimpy princess woman.
Having said that, my sub-conscious feminist side was jolted the other day upon reading the story of Abram and Sarai. These two kids started out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, God’s promise of many children and many blessings sitting at the forefront of their minds. They were ready to take on the world!
But as the years went by, no kids came along. Abram and Sarai were getting older and older, and God’s promise no longer seemed so secure. So Sarai decided to take things into her own hands–she compelled Abram to sleep with her servant, Hagar, to fulfill God’s promise. Hagar got pregnant, and the rest is history.
The result was a complete disaster.
To read the whole story just turn to Genesis 16. If it wasn’t already obvious, it’s a great cautionary tale for wives who want to pawn their husbands off on other men. It generally doesn’t go over well.
But what is most fascinating to me about this story is God’s response. Rather than come down hard on Abram and Sarai, He does just the opposite–He reminds them that he will still fulfill His promise to them, even in spite of their unfaithfulness.
How does he do this? By changing their names. He changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of many nations.” He also changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means “princess.”
Now this move leads us to a very interesting question–why re-name Sarai “princess?” After all, she’d just mucked up the whole situation horribly. Doesn’t she deserve a good talking to? Is God simply letting her off the hook? And why “princess?” Aside from the fact that she wasn’t acting very princessy, could He have at least come up with a slightly cooler name, like Xena Warrior Princess or Shera Princess of Power? Not plain ol’ wimpy princess!
However the reason behind God’s actions are significant and profound, carrying great meaning for women today. And not just the kind that involves puffy sleeves. Picture it this way…
In the weeks following the Hagar debaucle, Sarai’s probably pretty down on herself. She’s just sent Hagar away in the wilderness, so she’s realized that the plan did not pan out the way she anticipated. She is a total screw up, and now she’s worried that she might have thrown away all that God had promised.
So what does God do? He reminds her of one unalterable truth: Sarah may mess up fromt time to time, but her identity remains the same. She will always be the daughter of the King. She will always be a princess.
You see God wasn’t talking about the kind of princess who waits all day long for her prince to arrive while she brushes her golden locks and sings to forest animals. The term “princess” is instead descriptive of her relationship to the King.
To think of it another way, it is kind of like being the President’s daughter. Sasha and Malia get extra special treatment and are watched by the entire country, not because of anything they’ve done, but simply because of who their dad is. What’s more, those girls will not cease to be the President’s daughters if they ever misbehave or embarrass him. No matter what, they will always be President Obama’s daughters, and they will receive the honor that is due that position.
It was the same for Sarah, and it is the same for us. Once you accept Christ, you are the King’s precious daughter. You can screw up and be unfaithful, but your identity will remain the same. You will be His sweet princess, not in a wimpy kind of way, but in a way that declares to the world, “I don’t care what you say about me, and I don’t care about your standards of value or beauty. I am the daughter of the most High King and nothing will ever change that.”
If you ever doubt your identity, your value, or your worth, remember Sarah. In the face of her sin God did not condemn her. He did just the opposite, and He is doing it now for you. You truly are a princess, and I mean that in the most non-cheesy, non-wimpy way possible.