There are times when I just can’t help being skeptical, really just struggling with doubt. Sitting in church yesterday I was reminded of a familiar Old Testament passage:d Genesis 18:1-15. God has made a promise to Abraham and Sarah: “You will have a child.” But decades have passed and there’s been no fulfillment, and the promise seems not only empty, but a cruel joke. Abraham’s name literally means “Father of Nations” and to top that, Sarah’s name translated means “Princess of Nations”.
Twenty-four years after this promise, God shows up at Abraham’s tent in the form of an angel and not only reminds them of the promise, but tells them that the fulfillment is imminent. I couldn’t help wondering how I would have responded if I had been Abraham. He certainly treats his visitor with respect and the hospitality afforded to only special guests, and there are no outward signs of skepticism that we can see. But Sarah was a different story. She was “listening at the entrance to the tent”, eavesdropping! And when she heard the repeated promise she “…laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ “ When the angel challenges her concerning her laughter, Sarah denies it because of her fear. But the angel knew!
I would never outwardly laugh at God; He’s not someone I would disrespect. But inwardly, sometimes I find myself thinking is there really Someone who is watching out for me, who has promised me that He would walk with me and bless me beyond what I could even ask or think? Promises are given to be acted on before there is evidence of fulfillment. This is what our faith calls us to. The Apostle Peter reminds us in II Peter 3:8,9: “But do not forget this, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Sarah is a reminder not only of the faithfulness of God, but also His patience. And the next time I’m tempted to laugh to myself in the frustration of unfulfilled promises, I’m called on to remember that God is still at work in me. So, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23. And Abraham and Sarah had a son…