No, but you did laugh!
by Glenn Pettit
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13 And the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?'
14 "Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
15 But Sarah denied it, saying, "I did not laugh," for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh!"
Why do we find it so hard to believe that the Lord can do great and mighty things? We have the testimony of His Word and the testimonies of thousands of years of believers, and yet we still doubt. We say we are too sick or too old or too far gone in despair or too broken or too sinful. Worse yet, there are those who say that the age of miracles is passed, and so they cannot see the possibility of God's help. And so, when someone of faith tells us the Lord will bless us, we laugh. We really do laugh. It's not that we're necessarily wanting to be mean to them, but we just don't see whatever it is they see. And that's not just the case with our own lives, but also the case when we hear about a promised blessing on someone else's life. "Oh, that wound will never be healed." "That cancer will take them within the year." "That relationship is headed for the rocks." Let's face it: we are born skeptics, and our modern age of "reason" just makes it worse.
The truly sad part of that doubt is that it exists at all among people of faith. We're like a whole generation of Missouri mules: God has to SHOW US what He will do before we'll believe it. I was like that before I came to Christ, waiting for God to show me His presence in my life. I was an agnostic--literally "without knowledge" of God's power and existence. I didn't NOT believe in Him, I was just waiting to be shown. And so I am sure that if anyone had told me He was going to call me to ministry, I would have laughed just like Sarah laughed. "Are you kidding? I'm too much of a sinner! I wasn't raised in the faith. I have avoided God and His churches for three decades. He won't want anything to do with me!"
So I can understand Sarah's skepticism. After all, what had God done up to that point that she knew about? He had created the world and the first people, but the world had been broken since then. Over the course of fourteen generations, the life spans of the children of Adam had dropped from over eight hundred years to just over one hundred years. The Lord had done (and was about to do) more punishing and discipline than actual healing--although He'd certainly done that, too. But in the eyes of both Abraham and Sarah, what the Lord was talking about in Genesis chapters 17 and 18 was laughable.
15 Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
16 "And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her."
17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"
Abraham fell on his face laughing! The Lord had done some pretty amazing things, but here He was talking about bringing life to people whose lives were nearly over. In today's world, Abraham and Sarah might have said, "Are You NUTS, Lord?!?" We must realize that it certainly shows a great deal of forbearance on the Lord's part for Him not to have struck them both dead and start fresh with someone else. No, the Lord really liked this faithful couple--even when they were laughing in His face.
God Himself makes the point with Sarah when He says, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" The Lord later ran into similar skepticism from Moses, and He responded in a similar fashion: "Has the LORD's arm been shortened?" (Numbers 11:23) And how about that time when Naaman, the commander of the armies of the king of Syria during the time of Elisha? When he was told he would be healed by washing in the Jordan--rather than the laying on of the prophet's own hands--he got downright angry. But the servant of Elisha assured him, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" (2 Kings 5:13) And who can forget all the times Jesus said to His disciples, "O ye of little faith!"? It is Jesus Himself who makes what is perhaps the best statement about all this:
26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?"
27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
We have got to quit thinking in terms of possible and impossible. We have got to quit thinking in terms of abandoning hope for the unsaved, of giving up on relationships, of saying goodbye to loved ones. We have really got to quit thinking with our heads and start believing more with our hearts. If we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul, then we will TRUST Him with all our heart AND mind AND soul. We cannot have faith in our hearts and skepticism in our minds.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Jesus Christ has come to our door and said, "I will heal you and bring you new life." Who are we to doubt Him, to laugh at the suggestion that He can heal what we cannot? We must be of one heart, one mind, one soul, focused wholly and faithfully upon the One who can accomplish things that we can hardly conceive.
Sarah laughed, and yet when the Lord told her He knew her skepticism, she denied it. For my own part, I laughed when I first came back into a church. I doubted that I could be healed, that I could be saved, that my heart would be whole again. And yet God did bless Sarah and Abraham, and he has also blessed me. Through that seed of Abraham, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, I have been healed and set on a new path--a path I would not have thought possible just a few years ago. That is how God works, that is how He thinks.
Therefore, let us not be like Sarah and deny our doubt. Let us instead REPENT of our doubt. Let us have a true changing of our minds so that we can see things the way the Lord does. God sees the world as full of possibilities, full of potential and life. So, let us quit laughing at the Lord and at what people of great faith tell us about His ways, and instead embrace the joy of the possibilities of this new life we have through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Father God, I have seen what You can do, and I am getting better at not doubting Your sovereignty over life. While I have seen tragedy and death, I have also seen great life and joy and salvation. Yours is the kingdom, Yours the power, and Yours the glory forever. Therefore, Lord, let not Satan tempt me to doubt, tempt me to laugh in the face of blessings. Help my unbelief, Father, so that I may serve You with a whole heart and mind set solely upon Your will and all Your possibilities. Amen.
© 2010 Glenn A. Pettit-Noel
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I like this article, and I do believe that the laughter God gives to His children (His supernatural joy) empowers faith, that His joy is our strength to believe. A favorite topic of mine! Nicely written.