The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old? But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18:13,15
God did not punish Sarah for laughing, an act of unbelief, but He did require her to tell the truth. Her sarcasm would be short-lived. In nine months, she would laugh again but this time out of joy rather than disbelief. God turns an emotion on its end after moving through the miraculous.
It’s difficult to come clean before God. If I laugh at His promise, I know it’s really saying, “I don’t believe you.” This kind of response is disrespectful and I certainly don’t like it when someone does that to me even though I may have earned it. I’ve broken promises but God hasn’t. He has done nothing to earn a reputation that would warrant slander. So I am often like Sarah. I deny what I feel. I want God to think better of me. And, I want to think better of myself. Who wants to dwell on personal flaws!
My depravity is pretty depressing. Owning the depth of my sinfulness is not for the fainthearted. It takes guts. To admit, “God, I’m angry with you. I feel like you could care less that I’m going through this!” makes me fear that I will cause such a serious breech in our relationship that He will pull back indefinitely. What if He withdraws His love because of my accusations? After all, people do it! My scared heart is rooted in my long-time experience with others.
The cure for lack of faith is focusing on God and allowing His Spirit to reassure me through the meditation of His promises. The cure for a preoccupation with my own sinfulness is also focusing on God and owning the truth that God loves me, not because I am in any way deserving, but because that is the nature and character of His heart. He is Love.
John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace, was feeble minded in his old age. But when asked about his life by an admirer, he gave this reply. “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.” I must live in the joy of undeserved favor while still aware of the sinfulness of my own heart. One does not diminish the other. It frees me to be authentic, knowing that whatever I’ve done or said, Christ’s grace is of limitless supply.
You love me. I can be completely transparent with You and never fear abandonment. Amen