is anything too hard for the lord?
genesis 18: the lord comes to abraham and tells him that ‘i will surely return to you about this time next year, and sarah your wife shall have a son.’
if you haven’t read the previous chapters or are unfamiliar with the story of abraham, here’s the rundown:
gensis chapter 12- god calls this guy abram from ur of the chaldees. he’s currently living in haran when the lord tells him to leave his land and his family and go to a land that god will show him. god promises to make abram a great nation, to bless him and make his name great, … basically, god says that he is for abram.he will bless those who bless abram, he will curse those who curse abram, and through abram the whole earth will be blessed. this is awesome! one catch: abram’s wife sarai is barren (11:30).
but the text reads that abram picked up and went! ‘… so abram went, as the lord had told him …’ this 75 year old man packs it up and heads east. the lord shows abram the land that he is going to give him, and after a brief sojurn in Egypt (more on that later), he heads to bethel, near ai and makes his camp.stuff happens … in chapter 15, the lord speaks to abram again, telling him ‘fear not, abram, i am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ abram is discouraged at this point because he is getting older and older, and still has no son.how can he be a great nation if he has no children?! (i would have to agree with abram here- this is a pretty legit question!) the lord promised abram that he will have a son- not a surrogate, but a biological son- and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars.chapter 16, sarai decides to move matters along and gives abram her handmaiden hagar to sleep with so that abram can have a son- after all, she’s past childbearing age and is still barren. abram agrees, hagar conceives, and ishmael is born. abram is 86 when ishmael is born. whoa.years later, when abram is 99, the lord appears to him again and makes a covenant with him. god changes abram’s name to abraham, and sarai’s name to sarah. [abram means ‘exalted father’ and abraham means ‘father of a multitude’. coincidence? i think not.] the covenant has to do with circumcision, and how that is to be the sign of the covenant between god and abraham’s descendants. (just want to insert here that i’m glad i’m not a guy.) at this point in chapter 17, god promises abraham that sarah will bear a son- yes, sarah … the barren one- and that she will become nations.god tells abraham to name the child isaac (meaning “he laughs”), and promises that he will establish his covenant with isaac , and that isaac will be born in the next year.
ok, now that we’re caught up on the cliffnotes version of ths story, back to chapter 18. vs.10 makes the second time that abraham is told that he will have a son within the year. this time, sarah hears the lord say it, and she laughs. the text tells us that ‘the way of women had ceased to be with sarah’- basically, she’s post-menopausal and can’t have kids. nice. (i don’t love that i have this to look forward to.)
the lord hears her, and says “why did sarah laugh and say ‘shall i indeed bear a child, now that i am old?’ is anything too hard for the lord?” then he says it a third time: i will return to you about this time next year, and sarah shall have a son.
the kicker: in chapter 21, sarah does give birth to a son.they do call him isaac. abraham is 100 years old!! sarah is in her 90’s.
i love that the scripture makes a point of reminding us that sarah is barren, that abraham is old, and that they had to wait until only the hand of god could bring about what was promised to them. god wanted to make sure everyone knew and no one could dispute the fact that HE is the one who gave abraham a son, and that he keeps his promises. his plans will not be thwarted, and nothing is too difficult for him.
final thought: its over 10 years before the initial promise that god makes to abram comes to fruition in the birth of isaac. god did what he said he was going to do, and he did it on his own timetable. our god is a trustworthy and faithful god, and he will do what he has promised. i may have to wait a while for it, but its worth it to see god do his thing.