Day 11

Abraham & Sarah

from the Genesis reading plan

Genesis 17:1-27, Genesis 18:1-15, Hebrews 11:8

Why did Sarah laugh at God? Have you ever laughed at Him for the same reason?

Bruce Springsteen sang, “Glory days; they’ll pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye.” Sarah, in this passage, isn’t young anymore. When you believe your glory days have passed you by—when you feel washed up, passed over, and spent— God’s incredible promises become promises you believe may still come to pass, though you wonder if you will still factor into them.

Sarah was beautiful. Even at 65, her beauty was so compelling that Abraham lied and told people she was his sister so they would honor him for her sake, as opposed to killing him so that they might take her as their own wife (Genesis 12:11-20). The irony was not lost on Sarah. She was alive with beauty, but in a place no one could see, she was dead. In an area she most wanted to be alive, she was not. She was barren—outwardly beautiful while inwardly hurting. (In what area of your life are you like this?)

It wasn’t just that Sarah’s childbearing years were behind her. They never happened. Everything Sarah tried to do to improve her situation only complicated her life. So she laughed at God when He insisted she would have a son: “Will this shell of an old woman, with this wisp of a husband, now succeed at what we’ve failed to do for over 50 years?” (Genesis 18:12, my paraphrase).

The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?” Sarah lied, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the Lord rebuked her, saying, “Yes you did” (Genesis 18:13-15). Her laugh may not have been as deliberate as much as it was reactionary—half laugh, half exhale. When it came to bearing children, her life was the accumulation of insult added to injury. So she laughed.

We are not unlike Sarah. We hear the glory of God’s promises—some of which are very personal and fragile for us—but sometimes feel like “odd men out” when our lives seem marked by lifelessness, barrenness, and failed schemes. We ask, “Could God’s promise really be for me?” To this God says, “I know what you’re thinking, and I know why.”

God mercifully calls us out when we laugh at His promises because what we consider to be impossible is not (Genesis 18:14).

God’s rebuke is restorative. Sarah’s laugh was a separating laugh. In her pain, she turned her back on God’s promise, and with His rebuke He turned her back toward Him. Why? Because God, who took it upon Himself to uphold His covenant, would not permit Sarah to harbor separation from Him in her heart (Romans 8:38-39). His rebuke was a call for her to believe and rely on Him in the face of impossible odds.

God’s rebuke is also reassuring. God called Sarah out so she could know that the One who reads her mind can also open her womb. He knows better than we do how incredible His Gospel is. His covenant is relational in nature, and He has made it for us to participate in. God’s call is to Himself. He turns us back when we laugh in disbelief, and He assures us that He is able.

May we learn to receive correction from the Lord as restorative and reassuring.

Post Comments (30)

30 thoughts on "Abraham & Sarah"

  1. Howard K says:

    God will never give up on us and we need to believe.

  2. Howard K says:

    We are full of doubt and lack of belief that God will actually fulfill our prayers. If we just could be patient and believe with all our heart and be still and listen God is there to answer our prayers.

  3. Howard K says:

    Even though we may doubt what the Lord has for us is true or also doubt that the Lord is listening to us, the Lord is still listening to us and with us no matter what. He will not give up on us and his love is so great as he has shown by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  4. Howard K says:

    By trusting more and more that God is with me and will always be with me. Trusting in God to answer my prayers even if it is not the answer I want to accept that there is a reason and know there is a bigger picture.

  5. Howard K says:

    God thank you for always being with me even when I have doubt. God grant me peace and serenity to be patient for your answers to my prayers and cast out and doubt that I may have. I know you are with me as you have shown us by giving up you only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Praise to you my Lord. I ask you this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, Amen.

  6. Drew Mader says:

    That is the Gospel; walk blames before God and he will do the rest. Have faith. He will do what he said he will do. Rust in him and be patient. Don’t panic and take matters into your own hands. Don’t try to have your actions fulfill God’s words. He’s got this.

  7. Drew Mader says:

    Walk before me and be blameless may be some of the most amazing words in all of scripture. Really Lord you believe I am capable of that? God would never ask me to do something I can’t so you believe I can walk before you and be blameless? That’s an amazing got of confidence by God in man.

  8. Drew Mader says:

    Shockingly it means that we should walk before God and ( attempt to ) be blameless. Or else it’s a foreshadowing of the provision by God of Jesus so that we might be seen by God as being blameless as we are covered by Christ.

  9. Drew Mader says:

    I will do my best to walk before God and be blameless. He has already provided for when I am at fault, for when I am to blame. And I will do my best to give him as little as possible to cover for me. I will trust his word and be faithful.

  10. Drew Mader says:

    Lord give me the faith and courage and patience to walk blames before you and know your loving presence just over my shoulder. May I hear and feel the whisper of your breath and your pleasure in me as I walk.

  11. Christopher says:

    God can do the seemingly impossible.

  12. Christopher says:

    Remember not to laugh at God when He does the impossible for me.

  13. Christopher says:

    God makes and keeps seemingly impossible promises. Like that He would love sinners so much that he would send his only son to die to redeem the sinners.

  14. Christopher says:

    Our disbelief in Gods powers can backfire even when it seems certain.

  15. Matt Hert says:

    The flesh of a man is evil. Paul discusses it, others elude to it. I think that’s what circumcision does. It reminds us that our flesh is evil but God made us a new creation. Our flesh isn’t evil just sexually but our brain matter and our physical bodies are tainted. But we are spiritually a new creation which can be redeemed.

    Ishmael was redeemed because of mercy and Abraham was made righteous because of faith and Gods promise was redeemed through what Sarah, quite reasonably, laughed at.

  16. Matt Hert says:

    The Godhead is intimately involved in redemption. Whether it is the promise of God or the action of the spirit or the teaching of Jesus we see them intimately involved in this promise and know they all three have their place in one Gospel.

  17. Matt Hert says:

    Remember to trust the promises of God in my life. Remember to rejoice in trials (James 1). Remember that the man who is delighted in the law of the lord is like a tree by a stream (psalm1). Remember that he is faithful when I am faithless. Then truly take all of these to heart and trust them. I am going to try to try less by my own strength and more by these promises.

  18. Matt Hert says:

    He first thing I considered is the fact that God insisted upon an outward display of affection to remind them of whom they belong. Circumcision is an interesting way to accomplish this outward display. I think it accomplishes two goals: the first being the outward obedience to God, the second, and more important, being that it is a picture of our flesh being evil.

    This is built upon by the new creation imagery we see in changing of the names. We see that this non physical part of them has changed but their flesh remains.

    I would say this reminds and teaches me that God is a teacher. He teaches through visible truths i.e. Jesus, circumcision, rainbow, and the like. He also teaches intellectually, name changes, words of rebuke and the bible. Furthermore he teaches spiritually with answers to prayer, spiritual promptings, and even dreams in some cases. With that in mind I have to remember he is a trustworthy teacher someone I can question, but don’t need too. Someone who can be the rock when things seem impossible and be the light when things are easy.

  19. Matt Hert says:

    Help with: Steadfastness, diligence, provision

    Be with: my wife, Kyle, Cyle, siblings, parents

    Thanks for: love. Promises. My church. The church. Financial provision. A growing marriage.

  20. Jeremy Hill says:

    God always keeps His promises.

  21. Jeremy Hill says:

    Man is sinful and doesn’t always trust in God.

  22. Nathan says:

    I will have faith even when I cannot see.

  23. Nathan says:

    We often think with our minds. We say oh this can’t happen. We think with logic and reasoning because that’s how we grew up in this world.

  24. Nathan says:

    The word of God is never something to be taken lightly. It is the way the truth and the life.

  25. Nathan says:

    God knows what he is doing. Nothing is impossible for the Lord.

  26. Nathan says:

    Lord give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Give me discernment and help me overcome my unbelief. I am yours and I belong to you. I am your child. Nothing is impossible for you so I will trust in your unfailing love. Amen.

  27. Ricky May says:

    We’re weak and fickle, but God is steadfast and pursues us!bwe just need to believe nothing is impossible for him.

  28. Ricky May says:

    God is good and even his rebukes are good and for our good and his purposes. He’s not a jerk or a bully.

  29. Ricky May says:

    God is bigger and better than I can even imagine. It’s not too late. With God, it’s never too late for anything.

  30. Ricky May says:

    Please help me remember this, Lord. With you, it’s never too late.

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