“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Hebrews 11:11-12 (Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7)
Do you have faith like Sarah? Do you question God’s promises and have doubts but are then moved to believe?
Certainly, Sarah doubted God’s promise at the first and even laughed at the thought. After all, how could she, when she was 90 years old and past her child-bearing years, give birth to a son in her old age? And how could Abraham, 99 years old, have a son by her? But, “is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).
But God’s promise moved her to trust. And, she gave birth to Isaac (which means laughter) when Abraham was 100 years old and she about 90. And, through Isaac, God’s promises were fulfilled to make Abraham’s descendants as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. And through Isaac God fulfilled His promise to make Abraham a blessing to all the people of the world, to send the promised Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent and undo the work of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-5).
Sarah’s faith reminds us of the faith of another woman in another promise – related to this promise but also impossible according to human understanding and natural law – Mary, a virgin, would conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son who would redeem His people Israel from their sins and be the Savior of the world (cf. Luke 1:26ff.; Matthew 1:18ff.).
Mary questioned the angel, saying, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). The angel answered her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God … For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:35,37). And Mary’s doubts were overcome by faith in God’s promise. She responded: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). And, of course, God fulfilled His promise to send His Son to be our Savior (Luke 2:1ff.).
God also promises to us what is by nature’s laws impossible – redemption by Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ Jesus, our resurrection and eternal life in heaven for Jesus’ sake. We question how this can be, but the Holy Spirit uses God’s promises to work in us faith to believe His words to us are true: that Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4); that God justifies and forgives us sinners, counting us righteous in His sight, when we simply trust in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (cf. Romans 3:21-26; John 3:14-15; 1 John 1:5 – 2:2); that Christ washes away our sins and gives us His Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism (cf. Acts 22:16; Titus 3:4-7; Colossians 2:11-15); that Christ gives to us in His Supper to partake of His body and blood given and shed for us for the remission of all our sins (cf. Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.); that Christ will raise up our bodies from the dust on the Last Day and give to us and all believers eternal life with Him in heaven (cf. Job 19:25-27; Psalm 17:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:51ff.;). “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
O gracious and merciful God, pardon our unbelief when Your promises seem impossible to us, and strengthen our faith to believe Your Word and to live our lives trusting in all that You offer and promise to us in Christ Jesus. Grant this to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]