They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
(Genesis 18:9-15 ESV)
There are a couple of things that I find very comforting in this passage…
- Sarah (for all intents and purposes) laughed in God’s face. The promise was impossible in her eyes, she laughed at the mere thought that it would come true. Circumstances were larger than God’s power and might.
- Sarah outright lied to the Lord. She knew what she had done, she was scared, so she lied.
- The Lord did not lecture her or punish her for her unbelief and lying. He gently corrected her.
- God still fulfilled her promise. God didn’t say, “Fine. Laugh in my face. Doubt my power. Doubt my love. If you’re going to act like that, I withdraw the provision.” God graciously and kindly corrected her sin and then fulfills His promise and lavishly blesses her.
I don’t know about you, but I often laugh at God’s promises. I don’t literally laugh (though I must admit I have), but my heart attitude is the same as Sarah’s. I lack faith. I doubt God’s Word. I believe only what makes sense to me. I sinfully doubt and give into anxiety. I choose to believe what I see; instead of the promises of God in His Word. I cling to my experiences and sight rather than to His perfect character and all-sufficient grace.
I take great comfort in God’s gracious patience seen in this passage. Like with Sarah, He gently corrects me, leads me to repentance, and often provides (even if it is years later) and lavishly blesses. Not only does this bring me fresh gratitude for the gospel and the forgiveness of my sin. But, it brings me much hope for the future. My future isn’t dependent on my great faith or works for God. My future is dependent on my Sovereign Father’s care and love for me. I have a part to play. I must faithfully obey. But, God doesn’t give me blessing only when my faith is 100%. (Because in reality, it never is and never will be.) His blessing is a gift, freely given and completely undeserved. What a great God we serve!