Genesis 17-18

Is Anything Too Difficult For God?

“Is anything too hard for the LORD? About a year from now, just as I told you, I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:14 NLT

Abram’s battle with belief continues. He has been reckoned or counted righteous by God because of his faith, yet he continues to struggle with unbelief. In chapter 17 God reaffirms His covenant with Abram and changes his name to Abraham. God restates the fact that He is going to make Abraham exceedingly fruitful. He is going to bless Abraham with a multitude of descendants. He makes it very clear how He is going to do this. “And I will bless her [Sarah] and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings will be among her descendants!” (Genesis 17:16 NLT). Could God had made it any plainer? Yet Abraham’s immediate response is one of doubt. “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. ‘How could I become a father at the age of one hundred?’ he wondered. ‘Besides, Sarah is ninety; how could she have a baby?'” (Genesis 17:17 NLT). Can you relate to this scene? Abraham is bowing before God as a sign of worship and submission, but inside he is laughing to himself in disbelief. He is questioning the very God he is worshiping. Then he has the audacity to express his disbelief. “And Abraham said to God, ‘Yes, may Ishmael enjoy your special blessing!'” (Genesis 17:18 NLT). He had still not let go of his plan B. He couldn’t see any other way for God to fulfill his covenant promise than through the son Abraham had had with his wife’s servant girl. Isn’t that how many of us pray? We come up with our own plan and then ask God to bless it. We determine what we think is the best course of action and ask God to put His Good Housekeeping seal of approval on it. But that’s not the way God works. He responds emphatically, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him” (Genesis 17:19 NASB). God had a better plan.

Laughter is contagious, so is doubt

It seems that Abraham’s lingering doubt was a family matter. He and Sarah probably had conversations over  dinner regarding God’s repeated promises of blessing. They most likely discussed their doubts and concerns over God’s ability to pull off what He had promised. Because when the three angels of the Lord appear to Abraham confirming God’s plan to give them both a son and to announce that Sarah will give birth to that son in just one year,  Sarah laughed to herself. She clearly heard what the Lord said, but then she took a look at her surroundings and concluded: “How could a worn–out woman like me have a baby?…And when my master––my husband––is also so old?” (Genesis 18:12 NLT). God had promised the impossible and improbable. He had overstepped His capacity to deliver. At least in Sarah’s mind. Yet even though she expressed these doubts to herself, God knew exactly what she was thinking. He always does. We may be bowing before Him like Abraham did or hiding from Him like Sarah. But He still knows what we are thinking in our hearts. He sees through our mock submission and futile hiddenness. He knows. Remember, He is the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).

God responds to Sarah’s doubt, not with anger, but with a question: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14 NLT). My mind says, “No!,” but my heart wants to say, “Yes!” If I am honest, there are times in my life when I experientally express to God my doubt in His ability to pull certain things off. I fear, worry, experience anxiety, take matters into my own hands, start planning and scheming. In other words, my actions tell God that I do think some things are too hard for Him. But the prophet Jeremiah had a different perspective. “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:17 NASB). In the book of Zechariah, God informs His people that He is going to one day reestablish Jerusalem and return His people there. The people had already returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon and had been given the task of rebuilding the walls, but they had failed to finish. Jerusalem still lay in ruins. The Temple had been destroyed. They were demoralized and defeated. So God responded to them, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small and discouraged remnant of God’s people. But do you think this is impossible for me, the LORD Almighty?” (Zechariah 8:6 NLT). The Message puts God’s question this way: “Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for me? Not if I have my say.”

God will have His say!

Is anything too hard for God? No! God will have His say and His way. He will do what He said He will do. He will accomplish His plan and nothing can stand in His way. God would do exactly what He promised for Abraham. In spite of their disbelief. Thankfully, the promise didn’t rest on their faith, but on God’s faithfulness. God’s promises never fail. He always comes through. He delivers the goods. Yet we still doubt. He has proven Himself faithful time and time again. But we still laugh to ourselves and say, “But can He really pull this off?” May we learn from the lives of Abraham and Sarah and begin to take God at His word. He can be trusted. He will come through. Nothing is too hard for Him!

Father, I want to believe that. Nothing is too hard for You. I want to live it. I want my life to reflect it. I want to respond to the impossible with immovable faith in You. In the face of insurmountable odds, I want to have unshakable faith. You have already proven in my life that nothing is too hard for You, but I still doubt. Thank You for Your patience and grace. Thank You that times of difficulty are your school room for showing Your power in my life and proving Your trustworthiness. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men