Lessons from Women of the Old Testament Day 2: Sarah’s Laughter
The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 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 18:13-14 ESV)
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11, ESV)
Have you ever heard news that seemed too crazy to be real? Your jaw may have dropped or maybe you didn’t even believe the news at first because it was outrageous or seemed exaggerated! Well, if so, you’ve had a glimpse into what was going on in Sarah’s mind when she overheard the news that she would bear a child in her old age. The shock was deep, considering that she was almost 90 years old!
Sarah’s response was laughter in utter disbelief because of her and Abraham’s ages; it didn’t seem possible. Even today, when the expectant mother is above the age range of 35-40, it is considered a high-risk pregnancy. Although that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it means the pregnancy can have complications and the delivery can be more traumatic for the mother and the baby. Imagine if your own grandmother (or maybe even great-grandmother!) told you she was expecting a child. I’m fairly certain my jaw would drop. It would certainly make headlines!
Sarah’s laughter may have been in disbelief, but we know that the Lord came through on His promise with the birth of Isaac. We often remember her disbelief (or unbelief) when we think about Sarah, but I think it’s important to look at the big picture. She may have displayed unbelief in the passage in Genesis, but later in the Bible we read about her faith in the champions of faith chapter in Hebrews 11. Instead of reading of her moment of doubt, we are reminded that she displayed faith in the One who gave her the promise. When she focused on the One who delivered the news, she understood it was possible.
There are many things I appreciate about Sarah and her story, but I’ll share two of those. First, remember that it’s never too late to display faith. Sarah wasn’t forever chastised for this moment of unbelief. When she showed signs of doubt, she wasn’t turned away by the Lord. He still came through on His promise for her to conceive and give birth to a son to carry on their name.
I’m so thankful for this reminder, because I’ve had my fair share of moments of doubt—moments when my faith has faltered under the pressure. I’ve been in situations where I couldn’t understand how the Lord could use it for good, I’ve been given news that left me in disbelief, and I’ve had doubts about even the simplest truths about salvation. The Lord knew that these moments would occur in my life, but that didn’t stop Him from saving me. No sin or doubt can ever “snatch [us] out of [His] hand” (John 10:28). We have been redeemed and saved by the blood of the Lamb, and nothing can ever change that.
Another lesson I love to consider from Sarah’s story is the power of the Lord we serve. In response to her laughter at the news of bearing a son, He said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” I’m so thankful that the answer is a resounding NO. There is nothing too difficult for the Lord—no mistake, no sickness, no addiction is too big for the Lord to handle. We look at these situations with finite minds, unable to see the big picture, yet the Lord has an infinite mind, and He knows the end result. He never falters in the face of difficulties, for He knows them before they happen.
Next time you read or hear about Sarah, I pray that you remember the faith she ultimately displayed rather than her moment of weakness. In our own lives, let’s all take heart in remembering that we are never “counted out” when it comes to faith. We are always welcome, and He is always near to rescue us from any situation. We serve a God who loves and cares for us, and is bigger than any of our doubts or fears.