Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Tis to Laugh" - Sarah, continued


There is another time that laughter figured very importantly in the life of Sarah. And it's probably something that she regretted time and again . . .

In today's society, there is very little value placed on promises. Next to no value on someone's word. Years ago, all that was needed to finish up a deal, or to seal a contract between two people, was a simple handshake. Not any more!
But we will see that a promise is not to be laughed at, when it is a promise from God.

We spoke about what it must have been like to hear the laughter and the taunting from the other women that were around Sarah every day. Even if they did not poke fun at her, it was a natural thought in those times for a question to be at least thought of, if not voiced: What is wrong? Why has God not blessed you with children? The scriptures tell us that Abraham had over a thousand warriors, so there were probably that many women in the camp, right? And Sarah was the most honored of all the women there; she was Abraham's wife; her name meant Princess.

Let's look at when the scholars tell us Sarah was about ninety years old:

                    The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while
                    he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham
                    looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he
                    hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the
                    ground. He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass
                    your servant by.  Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash
                    your feet and rest under this tree.  Let me get you something to eat, so you
                    can be refreshed and then go on your way--now that you have come to your
                    servant." "Very well," they answered, "do as you say."  So Abraham hurried
                    into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and
                    knead it and bake some bread."  Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice,
                    tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.  He then brought
                    some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before
                    them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
                    "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There, in the tent," he said.

                    Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year,
                    and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance
                    to the tent, which was behind him.  Abraham and Sarah were already old and
                    well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.  So Sarah
                    laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old,
                    will I now have this pleasure?"  Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did
                    Sarah laugh and say, ’Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything
                     too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year
                    and Sarah will have a son."  Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not
                    laugh." But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."  (Genesis 8:1-15)

The first thing that Sarah does when responding to the Lord's promise is to point out the circumstances. As if she is saying something that God is not aware of. Ouch. I have done that. Be honest, you have too, right?
She says, "I'm worn out." I'm past the time of child bearing. I'm tired. I'm old.
Then she makes another excuse: He's too old. He's grumpy, he has aches and pains, and he probably doesn't find me all that attractive any more.

But what she is really thinking is in verse 13 . . . "Will I really have a child?"
God finished up the conversation with the promise that Sarah will have a son the following year. He also asked a question that many people have pondered: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

Here is the root of the problem. Are you ready for it?
In verse 15, it tells us that Sarah was afraid. Yes, she was afraid since she had been caught in a lie, but she was afraid before that, too. Sarah's fears may have been fears of a "failed" life. Of hopes that would not be fulfilled.
God met those fears with a promise -- He not only promised a child; He promised a son. He looked into Sarah's heart and saw her hidden battle. No one else could see, but He could. She was battling the fact that she was afraid to get her hopes up again; she wasn't sure she could put her hope in God again, in ever having a child.
Sarah, who had endured being barren for so long, was afraid if she allowed herself to hope again, and God didn't come through for her she would be disappointed -- crushed and without hope.

Our God is a promise maker . . . more importantly, our God is a promise keeper!
Look at how many times in Genesis God promises Abraham a significant future:

                   1.  Genesis 12 - God promises that Abraham would become a father of a great nation
                   2.  Genesis 15 - God promises them an heir - the beginning of a multitude of people
                   3.  Genesis 17 - God reminds them that He will keep His promise

What was their response?
That's just not possible!
Oy.
That is the whole point, isn't it? God asks us to have faith in Him; He asks us to believe that He can accomplish what is absolutely impossible for us -- because nothing is impossible for Him! He accomplishes His miraculous, incredible, sometimes "unbelievable" promises through ordinary, everyday people like you, and me, and Abraham, and Sarah.

Do we moan and whine when our faith is tested? Do we refuse to remember the promises of God for our lives? How about what Paul writes about in Romans 8?

                       Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in
                       Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit
                       who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
                       For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened

                       by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of
                       sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the
                       flesh, . . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither
                       angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any
                       powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
                       will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ
                       Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:1-3, 38)

Are we forgetting His promise from Matthew 28?

                       ...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And
                       behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. Do we laugh to ourselves, as Sarah did, and say, "that's impossible," or do we cling to His promise with all the strength our faith has?  He has promised to love us when our hearts are broken; He has promised to be with us if our spouse or our friends forsake us; He will not leave us when we get laid off from work.

No matter what our situation, when God makes us a promise, He means it! I think that one day, Sarah will look back on this day and be upset with herself . . . she laughed at His promise.

Join us next time for more about Sarah.