Because Abraham was faithful to the Lord, he became a channel of blessing to his wife and eventually to his family. Sarah had an important role to play in the working out of God’s plan of salvation for the world, and she did her part (Heb. 11:11; Rom. 4:18-21). Sarah was now eighty-nine years old; yet she was still a desirable woman with charm and beauty, partly because her husband loved her and treated her like the princess that she was.
The Lord had come all the way from heaven to give Abraham and Sarah an announcement: At that same time next year, Sarah would give birth to the promised son! The news was so incredible that Sarah laughed and questioned whether such a thing could happen to two elderly people.
Let’s read the story ourselves from the NLT Bible…
“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.
“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.
Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”
Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’
Genesis 18:9-13 (NLT)
Here the first hint is given to Abraham as to who these guests are. They ask him,
“Where is Sarah your wife?”
Only the Lord could know of her recent name-change, but here is a man who asks,
“Where is Sarah?”
Abraham begins to realize then who this is, and when the question is followed with the repeated promise of a son, he is sure of the identity of his guest.
Do you remember those two men on the Emmaus road, after the resurrection of our Lord, who did not recognize Jesus when he joined them?
It was not until they saw him in the familiar act of breaking bread that they knew who he was. So when Abraham hears these familiar words about the promise of the son, then he knows who it is that speaks.
Beyond the dividing curtain in the tent, Sarah has been listening to everything. She is doing the dishes just beyond the tent curtain, but she hears it all. She hears the question and the promise, and she realizes it is God who is saying that she will have a son. She looks at her 90-year-old body, long since almost dead. She looks in the mirror and sees the whiteness of her hair, the wrinkles in her face. She feels the arthritis in her bones. And when she hears this, she laughs cynically to herself.
Abraham had laughed when the Lord told him he would have a son at the age of one hundred (Genesis 17:17). But there was no rebuke for Abraham. That’s because his laugh was motivated by joy and faith in what God had promised. But Sarah’s laugh was motivated by unbelief. That’s why the angel reproved her. But as Hebrews 11:11 reveals, Sarah finally believed God’s promise.
Of course, whenever we doubt God, we are questioning both His truth and His ability.
Does He keep His promises? Does He have the power to do what He says He will do?
The answer to both questions is yes! (See Rom. 4:20-21.)
Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the LORD said, “No, you did laugh.”
Genesis 18:14-15 (NLT)
She made no sound at all, but laughed to herself, we are told. But beyond the curtains, the Lord read her thoughts and said to Abraham,
“Why does Sarah laugh in her heart? Is anything too hard for the Lord?
I’ll set a date for this: I’ll be back next spring and she shall have a son.” And we read that Sarah was afraid. She saw that her heart was open and known to God. She saw that there was one who reads hearts as we read books and she reacted just like we do. She denied that she had laughed. But God knows that to justify or excuse our sin or to protect it and rationalize it and build a wall about it is to drive us into further misery and heartache. We cut ourselves off from divine help. And so the stern word comes to her. “No, but you did laugh. Admit it, face it: you did laugh, Sarah.”
Making a woman who has already been through menopause have a child is not too hard for the Lord. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. We need to constantly remind ourselves of this.
What a beautiful lesson this is on the nature of faith. Faith looks beyond all the contrary circumstances to rest upon the character of the one who promised. Do not be misled by the popular delusion that faith stands by itself, that it is simply believing — anything! Faith must have a promise to rest upon. Anything else is presumption, gullibility, folly. But when God has given a word, it is the Word of God, and it can be trusted despite circumstance, feelings, or anything else.
For is anything too hard for the Lord?
Sarah rested upon that and believed God.
If you need proof, then listen to (Job 42:2, Jeremiah 32:17 and 27), the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:37), and the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:20-21). If God makes a promise, you can be sure He has the power to fulfill it; and He will remain faithful even if we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13). Sarah eventually repented and, with her husband, trusted God; and He gave them the promised son.
If you want a wonderful experience, take your New Testament and using a concordance, look up the two little-words, “But God.” See how many times human resources have been brought to an utter end; despair has gripped the heart and pessimism and gloom has settled upon a people and there is nothing that can be done. Then see how the Spirit of God writes in luminous letters, “But God,” and the whole situation changes into victory.
This is what God is offering to be and do in us, and through us, in our human life today. God responds in the same way to us as he did to Abraham, so when we are oppressed and confronted with circumstances beyond our handling, we find the promise of God that covers the situation. In prayer we can sense some prompting of the Spirit that gives us a word of faith to rest upon. Then, like Sarah, we may ask ourselves this question:
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
No, he is able to perform all that he says he will.