Genesis 18:13-14 (NIV): 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.”
It is difficult to find people who will believe God for the absolutely impossible. We have no trouble praying in faith for what we can accomplish in our own strength. Many of us can pray strong prayers for God to do things if we can see how they could be accomplished. But when it comes to accomplishing the absolutely impossible, those things that cannot be done in mere human strength, and for which no strategy can be figured out to accomplish them, even if they are promised, our faith in God’s ability to pull them off weakens dramatically.
By the time God made this very specific promise to Sarah, she was years past menopause and feeling her age. Before menopause, she could hold out hope that God could pull off a pregnancy. But once she hit that point, she figured that that hope was gone for good. What she couldn’t understand was that God has specifically waited until she had passed menopause, until she was 90 years old, to enable her pregnancy, so that there would be absolutely no question that it was a miracle – that God had done it Himself to uphold His promise to Abraham.
It was the same way with Mary. Had Gabriel appeared to a sexually active married woman and promised her a son, the next son to be produced (in the perfectly normal manner) would be seen as the answer to the promise (whether he was the one or not!). He would have been a mere product of human activity and natural processes. But when God promised that a virgin would conceive BEFORE she had any relations with a man, His promise entered the realm of the impossible. To Mary’s credit, she didn’t disbelieve like Sarah. She was just curious as to how the pregnancy would come about. And when the signs of the impossible pregnancy showed themselves with no man involved at all, there was no doubt that God had been the one who had done it.
God’s word is full of promises to His people – even to His people today. Many of them seem impossible, ARE impossible, from a human perspective. And that causes many people to write them off as hyperbole, or to push the possibility of their fulfillment forward clear into heaven. But God says to us what He said to Abraham: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Those things God has promised He can and will fulfill for those of us who diligently seek Him for their fulfillment. ALL that God has promised He can and will do.
Father, I think this is why we seem to experience so few miracles these days – they seem completely impossible, so we don’t ask for them in faith to keep from being disappointed if they don’t happen. We don’t declare them to other people for fear of looking foolish (or making You look foolish) if they don’t happen. But Your power has not diminished since the days of Abraham. You are still as capable of calling a whole universe into existence with a word. Your arm has not grown any shorter. Forgive our unbelief, our hesitancy to take You at Your word, to completely believe all that You have promised. Help us, Lord, to have the kind of faith that really CAN move mountains, that really CAN do all of the things that Jesus did, and even greater things. Help us to be a people who believe everything that You have promised, and who live in the continual reality of the fulfillment of every one of those promises. Amen.