GENESIS 18:11-15: “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, am I to have pleasure, my Lord being old also?” But the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I actually give birth to a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it, however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.” NASB
OBSERVATION: It is a New Year (2023)! The Holiday celebrations are almost over. The decorations and trimming will soon be in boxes stored for the next 10-11 months. The past year is behind us and a fresh clean slate lies ahead. As I was contemplating the New Year over the past few days I asked the Lord,
“Please give me a word for this year?!”
Without a word from the Lord, we can find ourselves like a sailboat without any wind in her sails. It is not that we don’t believe. It is just that we cannot see the sunshine past the clouds of the previous year. Have you ever noticed how everything looks worse on a cloudy day? Yet, when the sun breaks through our entire perspective changes.
Over the past few years, I have had my share of cloudy days. Ironically, New Year’s Eve was a dismal cloudy day as we approached this New Year. New Year’s Day is not much different. There are clouds in the sky and I woke up with a cold and feel lousy. So, when I began my time in God’s Word today I was not expecting much. And, then, I was humbled once again as…
God gave me a word!
I can really identify with Sarah. She had hopes and dreams in her life that had not come to pass. Sarah was barren and unable to give her husband Abraham a rightful heir. Taking things into her own hands she tried to fix the situation by giving her maid, Hagar, to Abraham, and Hagar conceived and bore a son named Ishmael. This did not solve Sarah’s problem but only made it worse.
Whenever we try to make things happen in our own strength we always fumble the ball!
Then something unexpected happened. One day three men came to visit Abraham. One of them was the Lord. The Lord previously had appeared to Abraham and told Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations. Abraham was 99 years old. How could this be possible at this advanced age? Abraham responded as most of us would.
- “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth to a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” But God said, “No, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” Genesis 17:17-19 NASB
Now, once again, the Lord comes to tell Abraham that Sarah will conceive and bear him a son. This time Sarah is standing at the door of the tent and hears the Lord speaking to Abraham. I don’t know if it was nervous laughter or the laughter of disbelief. Yet, just like Abraham had previously done, Sarah laughs to herself and says,
- “After I have become old, am I to have pleasure, my Lord being old also?”
Why was this such a stretch for Sarah to believe? It was not just that she was far past the years of childbearing at the age of 90. Abraham and Sarah had long since stopped having normal relations as husband and wife. She could not even think of the possibility of marital pleasure at her age, let alone the ability to conceive and bear a son!
Now what happens next is amazing. The Lord knows when our hearts are filled with faith and expectation and when they are struggling with doubt and unbelief. The Lord, speaking with Abraham, asks him a question that takes Abraham by surprise.
- “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I actually give birth to a child, when I am so old?’”
Abraham did not hear Sarah laugh or say anything. Sarah had simply laughed and thought to herself. Yet, I am sure that when the Lord questioned Abraham, he remembered the time that he laughed at what the Lord had said. The Lord continued to question Abraham.
- “Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it, however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
This phrase – “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?,” is a well-known promise from the Bible. I have read these verses hundreds of times. Yet, the word that I heard the Spirit speaking to my heart was not this familiar verse. It was the following.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH MY WORD?
Like Abraham and Sarah, I have a choice with what I will do with God’s promises. I can walk by faith or I can allow doubt and unbelief to cloud over God’s Word in my life. Abraham and Sarah did not magically conceive. There is only one miraculous conception. Abraham and Sarah, past the years of passion, past the years of the ability to squire children, needed to act on the promise of God and resume marital relations trusting that God was able!
It is not enough to know that there is nothing too difficult for the Lord. We must begin to act on His promises and calling for our lives. It may appear that everything before us is a closed door or a dead opportunity. Yet, if the Lord has given us a promise, a vision, or a dream, we need to continue to follow this with faith that is evidenced by our actions. Abraham and Sarah had to act on God’s promise and so do we.
And, so, on this New Year’s Day, I hear the Holy Spirit knocking at the door of my heart and asking,
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH MY WORD?
Lord, forgive me for the many times that I have been sidelined by the cloudy days in my heart and life. Open my eyes to see that there is nothing that I face, nothing that I have been called to, nothing that I have prayed and wept over – that is too difficult for You! Let my faith be a response to Your promise and not to my limitations. I know that all Your plans for my life are for good and not for evil. They are leading me to Your destined future and hope for my life.
Lord, by the power of Your grace, let me live each day like I believe this!
In Jesus’ Name!