There is a great Old Testament story about Abraham and some unexpected visitors on a hot afternoon. While most people know that Abraham is considered the Father of our faith, in the Jewish tradition he is also known as the Father of Hospitality. In this story we see that hospitality as Abraham and his elderly wife Sarah frantically pull together a meal for these weary travelers. In the midst of the preparations, Sarah overhears one of the travelers mention that she will give birth to a son in the next year.
In my mind, I see Sarah busy kneading the dough for the loaf of bread she is preparing for the guest’s dinner. Women are not invited to sit and talk with these visitors, but they all live in tents, and so everyone—Sarah and probably the servants—are activity listening to the conversation between Abraham and the unexpected travelers.
Then Sarah hears this outrageous statement. Sarah has been barren her whole life. She has lived a lifetime of pain, the cultural shame of barrenness, and the disappoint of her reality. She has completed her journey through menopause and any lingering hope of having a child is gone. And then this unexpected visitor utters the impossible. Sarah laughs to herself.
You know that laugh. It is the “are you kidding me,” sarcastic laugh that rolls off our tongue when we consider the impossible. It is the same laugh that slips through our lips when we hear
The pandemic is over.
Bipartisanship is thriving.
Racial equality has been achieved.
I am out of debt.
I have a clean bill of health.
My family is all getting along.
My marriage is thriving.
My job is fulfilling.
I have peace.
We all have spaces in our lives where we have lost hope. Where our laugh is resigned to a reality we do not want. That is why this is such a great story. It turns out that those thin tent walls allowed the visitors to hear Sarah’s response. They turned to Abraham and asked, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’ Is anything too difficult for the LORD? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-14) It is the same question we all need to ask ourselves. Is anything too difficult for God?
A year later Sarah was busy raising her son Isaac. What a great reminder of the power of God over the impossible.