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The grace of God to fulfill His promises...

The poverty of fear..

"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 18:14

There must have been a lot of pressure on Sarah. For those of you who don't know the story, Sarah was the wife of Abraham, the man who received the promise from God to leave his land and go to a land that He would be given. (see previous post And the promise specifically called for his descendants, or "to your offspring I [God] will give this land." (Genesis 12:7a) The only problem up to this point was the fact that Abraham had not received any offspring from Sarah. I've often wondered what Sarah was thinking at this point? What was she supposed to do as it seemed that the fate of her husbands relationship with the Lord hung in the balance and fulfillment of her bearing a child.

Have you ever been in a situation out of your control? More times than not this is when we struggle with fear. And we know from looking at 1 Peter 3:6 that this is what was gripping Sarah as she wrestled with the promise of God given to her husband. Peter says, "Sarah obeyed Abraham...And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening." And we know to this point that God had heard the prayers of Abraham and Sarah as he stated the obvious for both of them, "For I [we] continue childless." (Genesis 15:2) What was Sarah to do? And unfortunately, like all of us, she took matters into her own hands.

One of the most natural reactions we can have to fear is to blame God and take matters into our own hands. Sarah shows how fear drives us to the irrational as she turned to Hagar in Genesis 16:2, her Egyptian servant, and said to Abraham, "...God has prevented me from bearing children...go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." Unfortunately, for Sarah, there was no way that she would ever have children of her own by giving another woman to Abraham. But the poverty of man's nature when it comes to fear makes us do and think many unnatural things.

Most of the people that we encounter seeking help at the homeless shelter are in bondage to fear. They have taken matters into their own hands, like Sarah, and blame God for their circumstances. This is when we take on the challenge of pointing them back to Jesus and what He did for them on the cross. Reminding them that ultimately every situation that God has put them in is to help mold and shape them into the image of Jesus. And as we are about to see with Sarah, though we make mistakes and take matters into our own hands, this is not the end of story for God is faithful to fulfill His promises even when we least expect it.

Man's frailty and poverty can never negate God's grace and richness to do what He has said. This is the story of the Bible. Fear never will overcome love. Sarah, now at the end of her life, 90 years old, hears from God that he will have a son and that she will name him Isaac. Isaac means laughter, and that is exactly what Sarah did, she laughed. "After I am worn out, and my Lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" (Genesis 18:12) was her response to God. Or in other words, "Seriously God, when I have nothing left in me and am incapable of bearing a child, you will fulfill your promise?" And God did! Isaac was born a year later. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

What the story of Sarah teaches us as believers is that we are not the main character in the story of redemption. When left up to us we always will succumb to fear, blaming God or others for our own failure. Let us remember that God is the one who gives His promises so He can also fulfill them and show Himself great and worthy to be praised. He is the main character, we are simply the supporting cast. Our role is always to simply point others to the main character, who is Jesus and His grace and mercy that He showed us by dying on the cross for our sins. Let us trust His promises today...and remember that when we think we have nothing left to give, that is when He responds, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

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