Links Daily Devotional


“The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-14, ESV)

Some things get harder as we get older. Swinging the club certainly does, as our backs are a bit less flexible than they used to be. It is also difficult to start up golf when we are “older.” Difficult, but not impossible. Some people actually bloom late in life with their golf games; one only has to watch the Champions and Legends Tours to see that great golf isn’t just for the young and the reckless!

While some things in this life are difficult, others are in fact impossible. Bearing a child naturally in old age, for example, is impossible. We read that “the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah” in Genesis 18:11, depicting menopause, the permanent ending of a woman’s reproductive ability. This was an irreversible condition. And it is why Sarah laughed, at first, upon hearing the Lord’s promise to bless her union with Abraham with a son.

We are quick to judge Sarah’s lack of faith, but that is because we know the rest of the story. When this certain word was spoken to her, Sarah had no fertility in her body, perhaps for many years, and she had no internal seed by which to receive the Lord’s promise within her. She had no faith, not even a small mustard seed in her heart, by which she could foresee this miracle taking place. We can surely empathize with her laugh at the sheer impossibility, maybe in the same way we can empathize with Nicodemus’ puzzlement about the unfeasibility of “being born again” in John 3.

The Lord Jesus spoke openly about things that are impossible in this life. When answering the question in Luke 18:26 “Then who can be saved?” after having explained the holiness required for entering into the kingdom of God, and making it analogous to a camel passing through the eye of a needle, Jesus replied in verse 27: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” It seems God, in Genesis and in his holy incarnation, has been making it a point of showing us that impossible feats are God’s work, his domain and his expertise. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” No, nothing is too hard for you, Lord, would be the right answer—and without laughing, if possible!

As today’s text illustrates, God has the power to implant a seed in the most barren of wombs and most barren of hearts. The next element of the passage has to do with timing. “At the appointed time,” he returned to Abraham and Sarah, implying that at the appointed time she was also pregnant.

In the same way, the greatest of all events happened at a prescribed time in history. According to the perfect plan of God, from before the foundation of the earth, a Son was given, and Christ died at the appointed time (Acts 2:23). “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

And for our own sakes’, at just the right time, the Lord can sow the seed of faith in our barren, sinful, faithless, weak, fearful and mocking hearts.

Since the sin of Adam, the way of holiness has ceased to be with us and the glory and power of God in doing the impossible in rescuing us results in our praise of his grace. The Lord mercifully enabled Sarah to conceive, and turned the mocking laughter of Sarah into a laugh of joy as she bore her son, Isaac. In the same way, it is by his Spirit that he enables our ungodly hearts to be born again and he turns our unbelief into faith. This unmerited favor is the birthplace of joy! “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).

How would you react if you saw a 90-year-old woman who had never picked up a golf club swing her first drive 300 yards in the blue sky? I think you might rub your eyes, ask to see such an improbable feat again, or even laugh incredulously! The truly miraculous gift of God is in the same way hard to believe, but full of hope and saving power. John Newton beautifully wrote of this astounding work of God, and we still sing: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

Isabelle Beisiegel
January 16, 2014
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