One of the most familiar stories in the Old Testament, to believers and non-believers alike, is the story of Sarah and Abraham. They are in their 80’s and 90’s respectively, when God promises them the son they always wanted. God promises this despite their age and despite the fact, Sarah took matters into her own hands previously, with disastrous results.
After this promise, Abraham and Sarah receive three visitors. They welcome these three men and offer them food, rest and refreshment. What the couple doesn’t know is that the trio is the Lord and two angels. One of the three asks Abraham where Sarah is (and he doesn’t seem to wonder how this stranger knows his wife’s name). Abraham explains that Sarah is in the tent. Then one of the strangers says: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” (Gen. 18:10).
Sarah overheard this from the tent, and she broke out in laughter (wouldn’t you?). The Lord then asked Abraham why Sarah laughed. Obviously not realizing Who the man was, Sarah, afraid, lies and said she didn’t laugh. The Lord responds: “Yes, you did laugh” (Gen 18:15).
Abraham appears to have figured out the man speaking is the Lord and perhaps it belatedly dawned on Sarah. Can you imagine realizing you scoffed at the Lord’s plans for you? Perhaps you can. I can. As Dr. David Feddes puts it:
“Perhaps you know the feeling. You look at your situation and see no reason to think anything will change for the better. Maybe you hear promises over and over for a long period of time but nothing happens, and you tend to greet those promises with disbelief. Even if God himself is the one making the promises, you can’t help reacting like Sarah and laughing in disbelief.
But God doesn’t like it when we laugh at his precious promises. When we laugh because God’s promise sounds impossible and he hasn’t acted as soon as we would like, God has one simple question for us, the same question he had for Sarah: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Would God be God if there were something in the universe too great or too hard for him to handle? In that case, God would not be the supreme being; the obstacle God couldn’t handle would be supreme. How could that be? What can stop almighty God from doing what he says he will do?”
We are the answer to Feddes’ question is, of course, nothing. But we can scoff at God’s plans as easily as Sarah did. You may be terrified of public speaking, but God says you’re going to be a preacher. You laugh. You may be 56 years old and God says you’re going to leave your lifelong profession and become a pastor (He did say that. I momentarily laughed and He did make it happen).
Or He might show you a critical role you can play in helping heal a divided nation, on a scale larger than you can ever imagine. You laugh. But God doesn’t like it when we laugh at His plans and He always gets the last laugh. Abraham and Sarah would have a son and name him Isaac (the Hebrew word for laughter, showing that Abraham and Sarah truly did have a sense of humor). You may scoff, you may laugh, But God’s plans for you, no matter how crazy they sound, have a way of happening. As a pastor mentor of mine put it to me; “if it doesn’t sound crazy, then it’s probably not from God.”
We live in unprecedented times with unprecedented challenges. We have no way of knowing how God may call us to respond to them. Perhaps in this year of COVID, racial and political strife, you’ve been asking God: “Why don’t you do something?” Matthew West asks that question in the song “Do Something.” God responds: “I did, yeah, I created you!” You may be a significant part of God’s answer to the questions that plague the world today. Go ahead and laugh, Sarah did. But remember how God felt about that and remember who laughed last.
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI.