Stepping Into Impossible
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself,
“Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?
Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
In high school I can remember my eyebrows shooting up at the news that one of my friends was soon to become a big sister all over again—her mom was pregnant. A middle-aged lady having a baby is kind of unusual news, though certainly not unheard of.
But a grandmother? A great-grandmother, even? Surely not! Even with a divine promise—really? Parents so old? Nah.
Yet God works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? It keeps a person on their toes, and Abraham and Sarah were on their toes with laughter when God promised them a son by that same time next year (Genesis 17:16, 18:12). And this happened over a decade after Abraham had a son by Sarah's servant Hagar to ensure the family line (Genesis 16).
I had a great-grandmother live to 99, nearly 100, and it is an absolutely unthinkable thing that she was the same age as Abraham when he became a father. A hundred-year-old dad! That's not a woman giving birth when her other kids are high school-age; that's not even a grandmother giving birth. That's a GREAT-grandmother having a baby! It's no wonder Abraham and Sarah laughed!
But Abraham was an obedient, trusting fellow. God commanded that every male be circumcised, and he and his son Ishmael went out right away and were circumcised (17:23). Abraham was 99 and Ishmael was 13. That's just the kind of guy Abraham was.
So it makes sense he trusted God's promise implicitly. But it's easier to read that than live it, isn't it? “Oh, sure, that's Abraham—Abraham! I'm no Abraham. I just can't step out in faith like him. Impossible.”
Impossible. You know the Bible says that “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and sure enough, Isaac, whose name means “he laughs,” was born just a year later, “at the time of which God had spoken to him” (Genesis 21:2). I wish we had a little more on what Abraham and Sarah were feeling during the year between hearing from God and having Isaac. Surely there was some disbelief, a little head-shaking, even though they put their full trust in God. Maybe they laughed some more.
When we can't see what's ahead, things often seem impossible. That's where putting full trust in God and his promises comes in. It's hard, sure. What about my job? What will happen to my sick aunt? What will next year bring when we finally have a child? I know God said "X" in the Bible, but situation "Y" is a real conundrum—surely a happy ending is impossible!
I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
- Psalm 89:34
God is steadfast. God is true. There are myriad verses saying as much. If he says you'll be a father at 100, you'll be a father at 100. If he says he'll take care of you, he'll take care of you. It's a lot simpler than it sounds, I know, but what rest we can find when we rely fully on Him!
The next time your stomach's in knots, keep Abraham in mind. If he can laugh at God and still have a son upon entering his second century of life, imagine what is possible for you!