What are You Laughing At?

I hope your day is going fantastically well! The week’s off to a great start here in Richmond. This weekend was incredibly busy. As I noted last week, I spent time in Norfolk at studio with my band, recording over the weekend. I’m really excited about the music that’s come as a result of the work. 

This week is super slammed as well. Tonight, I’ll be singing at the National Anthem for the Flying Squirrels baseball game. If you’re in the RVA area and able to come out, please do! (Tickets for tonight’s game are here if you’re interested: http://bibbs.li/1jh93JR) Friday night, I'll be doing a concert tribute to Motown in Richmond as well. It's a benefit concert for Little League baseball fields in RVA. Tickets for that are here: http://bibbs.li/jbmotown. 

This week’s email is all about an important question that has to do with our faith. When it comes to faith, there’s no greater case-study than the life of Abraham and that is exactly where today’s email finds root.

I’m pretty sure you already know about Abraham’s adventure with God. There’s a part of the story that is I find rather bizarre, though. A year ahead of Isaac’s birth, the Bible says that God made a personal visit to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. During the visit, something strange happened:

The men said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”He said, “In the tent.” One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man. Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?” God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.” Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”

-Genesis 18:9-15

Bizarre, right? Sarah laughed at God’s promise! We have to take it easy on Sarah, though. She may not have known with whom she was speaking at the time. Then too, we have to bear in mind that Sarah and Abraham had been praying and following God’s instructions for a long time, with hopes of seeing the promise of a son come to fruition. They’d even tried to take matters into their own hands. Sarah had encouraged Abraham to father a child with her handmaiden, and he did. This wasn’t the promised son, God had committed to giving Abraham, though.

By this time, after all those years of trying to be obedient and sometimes trying to wrest control of the situation, themselves, things must have seemed hopeless - especially since the Bible says that both Abraham and Sarah were well past child-bearing years. Under normal circumstances Sarah’s laughter would seem perfectly reasonable. But, these weren’t normal circumstances. This wasn’t just some guy saying this to her. It was God!

So many times we find ourselves in Sarah-like situations. We know that there are promises that God has given us. So, we enthusiastically wait… at first. Then, we think “maybe God needs my help,” and we try to bring his promises into fruition on our own terms. Then, when we fail in our own attempts, we often find ourselves giving up hope. We often find ourselves throwing up our hands and letting the promises God has made fade to memory, or we start to question them. Was it him? Did he say that? That couldn’t have been his promise. If it were, it wouldn’t be taking so LONG!

We all have these Sarah moments from time to time. We all have these spaces in our lives where we’d just rather not hear about the promises anymore because hoping hurts too much! Deep down in our hearts, we feel hunger-like pangs every time we think about those promises. Sometimes we try to insulate ourselves against the discomfort of waiting and hoping by maintaining “healthy” doses of skepticism. Maybe that’s what Sarah did. Maybe that’s why she laughed.

Surely, we can relate to Sarah. How long had she waited for this promised son? How much had she and Abraham tried to conceive? How many years did she keep her hopes high that this would be the year when she would know the joy of conception and birth? How long had she waited? Now, when things seemed just about impossible, here was God bringing up that painfully hopeful promise again - this time with a timeline: one year. Maybe Sarah was all “hoped out” at this point. Maybe that’s why she laughed. Whatever the reason, she did. 

God, in all his glorious omniscience, saw right through Sarah. I find it interesting how he chose to deal with her unbelief. He didn't rebuke her. He simply asked why she was thinking the way she was. Then, he asked a more poignant question: “Is anything too hard for God?”

If we believe God has made us promises, we have to develop trust that he is faithful to see his word come to fruition. We will all have those moments when we slip into despondency and feel like the promises we’ve received are figments of our imaginations. We’ll have those moments, for sure. In those moments, the great challenge for us is to repeat the question that God posed to Abraham and Sarah: “is anything too hard for God?”

The answer of course is, no. The answer will always be no. In those spaces where our faith starts to sag under the weight of our perceived realities, we may have to rehearse this question over and over and over and over again. Every single time, the answer will be the same. Nothing is too hard for God! When we find ourselves chuckling internally in the face of seemingly absurd promises from God, this question should stop us in our tracks. It’s an eye-opening question that leads to another, in the context of this particular scriptural story

Simple Questions

Is anything too hard for God? No? Then what are you laughing at?