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"Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’”—Genesis 17:17 (NKJV)
To properly frame Abraham’s response here, we need to enter into his story which was long and painful. Painful, because despite the extraordinary exploits that we associate with him—his divine calling, his dramatic exodus from his homeland, his unique connection with God Almighty, his prosperity, his rescue of Lot—despite all these things, there remained a deep wound still requiring God’s touch . . . his inability to conceive a child with his wife, Sarah.
At this point in their lives, with Abraham approaching 100 years old and Sarah on the verge of being 90, this particular wound appeared to be unhealable. It had been too long, seemed too tall a task, and beyond the reach of even the One who divinely led them into this new land of promise. That’s why Abraham responds as he does when God declares that He would reverse the barren reality of the past several decades. Abraham doesn’t rejoice or even say “thank you.” He laughs in disbelief.
This detail is important, because it connects us to Abraham in a powerful way. Like him, we also bear wounds in our lives that have been there for years, maybe even decades. Many of us cannot even remember a time without them, indelibly deep and embedded in our story. In fact, they seem such a part of our life’s experience that we feel defined by them.
Just as Sarah must have overheard the occasional whisper, “There goes Abraham’s barren wife,” in the same way, we hear the voices (both real and imagined), “There goes the addict, the hypocrite, the coward, the one who can’t have a healthy relationship . . . ”
But in Christ, God promises to heal us of the wounds we feel defined by. Once we open our hearts to Him in faith, He begins to progressively make us like His Son (Romans 8:29, Philippians 1:6). It’s a long and painful process, but it’s based on the promise of the God who also guaranteed to give a new life to Abraham and Sarah. And like Abraham, we can hear this promise and laugh in disbelief, “Lord, it has been too long, it is too deep, it is beyond Your reach.”
As we’ll see, God’s promise is what prevailed in Abraham’s case and it will also prevail over our own disbelief, as well. At the end of the day, we are not defined by the wounds we sustain in this life, but by the promise of the Lord to heal us and make us like Him.
DIG: What was Abraham’s reaction to God’s promise and why?
DISCOVER: What do you disbelieve God is able to heal in your life?
DO: Ask Him to give you the faith to trust Him to do what seems impossible to you.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.