Happenings around Antioch

Where is Sarah?

Remember when three heavenly visitors came to see Abraham and Sarah, and one of them was the Lord himself? They enjoyed a big meal with Abraham that he and Sarah had prepared for them. Then they asked the question.  “Where is Sarah your wife?” This was not a location question, though that is how Abraham interpreted it. They knew she was standing right there, just inside the door of the tent, and could hear everything they said. The real question they were asking was, “What is Sarah believing?” This was another “Adam, where are you?” question. I see you Adam, hiding behind the tree and under those silly fig leaves, but I want you to acknowledge where you really are right now. “Sarah,” they were saying through the tent, “we know you can hear us, and we                                                                                                                                       want you to listen carefully to hear again the promise                                                                                                                                       of the Lord.”

The LORD speaks next and tells Abraham (and Sarah who is eavesdropping) exactly what he had told Abraham in the previous chapter. He repeats the promise that “about this time next year,” she would bear Abraham a son. This was on the schedule, and this was not a Delta flight. It was going to happen, on time. When Sarah heard that, she “laughed to herself.” She laughed because, well, she and her husband were advanced in years, and because “the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.” In other words, because she was no longer having a monthly cycle, it was physically impossible for her to have a baby. And that was true, and that was the physical reason behind her laughter. But the spiritual reason was at the heart of the issue. She laughed because she did not believe God the way Abraham believed God. And this, I think, was the first important reason for this visit. Before God would allow Abraham to stretch his faith with remarkable intercessory prayer, he would gently confront Sarah about her unbelief. It was important for her to fully embrace God’s plan and purpose. That was needed for her relationship with God. That was needed for her relationship with her husband. That would be needed for her relationship with Isaac.

I believe this is as true today as it was then. It is hard enough when a believer marries an unbeliever, contrary to what Scripture teaches. But even for two believers, God’s desire is that husband and wife are each pursuing the Lord with all their hearts. If it is a passion for one and only a preference for the other, God will not let that go. He will visit with us to draw each toward a passion and a pursuit of him. Bonus? A growing passion for the Lord strengthens your marriage.

Notice in this text, it is God who confronts Sarah about her unbelief, not Abraham. She laughed at the word of the Lord, who then asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?” Then he speaks the essential message of this passage: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Or also translated, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” That was the question God wanted Sarah to answer for herself. There is nothing too wonderful for the Lord, including and especially the things that we see as simply impossible. It was physically impossible for Sarah to have a baby. Not for the Lord. It was physically impossible for Mary to have a baby, and even more so, as she was a virgin. Not for the Lord. It was impossible for the people of God to escape Pharaoh’s army as they were backed up against the Red Sea. Not for the Lord. It was impossible for Daniel to survive a night with ravenous lions, or the three Hebrew boys to walk out of the fiery furnace. Not for the Lord. It was impossible for Jesus to conquer sin, death, and the grave. Not for the Lord.

You say, “You don’t know my husband,” or, “You don’t know my wife. He/she will never change. It is impossible.” Not for the Lord. You may say of yourself, “I can never be free from this sin that has me in its grip. It is impossible.” Not. For. The. Lord. But I will tell you what you must overcome, and God will help you do this. You have to come to the place where you have no more excuses and no more self-justification. When the Lord asked Abraham why Sarah laughed, Sarah finally spoke out loud and said, “I did not laugh.” She was lying to herself and to God. She was justifying herself before almighty God. She was making an excuse for her unbelief before God.

God hears all of our excuses and knows all of our justifications for sin, and he comes to us anyway. He brings a mountain of grace to exchange for our pitiful pocketful of favorite sins. He tells us the truth: “No, but you did laugh.” And he waits for us to believe him. That there is nothing too hard, nothing too wonderful for the Lord to do. Even in the hearts and minds of people like you and me.