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jacobrray

When We Don’t Believe What We’re Told

For being such a trusting person, I’m naturally a skeptic. It takes quite a bit of convincing to believe something, especially when it comes to bigger matters.

Every single move I’ve made, whether it was 10 minutes from the house where I grew up, or 10 hours away to Georgia, it didn’t really set in that it was actually happen until I got everything moved in and in place at my new location.

It was quite shocking when I moved to Georgia. I didn’t fully believe that I was actually moving until I was passing the big peach at Fatz as I drove through South Carolina into Georgia.

Giant Peach, or Sunburnt Butt?
Giant Peach, or Sunburnt Butt?

That was about 7 hours into driving. 7 hours. How the heck did I not fully believe that I was moving until I was almost a full workday into driving, sitting in the same seat with a few stops here and there for food???

I remember passing the peach and saying to myself, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?” I kind of laughed off the fact that I was moving across the South on May 15th, 2014. I downplayed that huge step as I packed my car with books, clothes, bedding, and almost every single belonging that was necessary to me living. I actually ended up having to take my car into one of the auto shops because the strain on my engine caused oil to leak and mess up everything.

And I still didn’t really grasp the concept that I was in my new home until about that Wednesday. I had lived there for 4 days, yet still didn’t believe that I was living in Georgia. Looking back, I know I was crazy for not believing that something so big was going to happen until it actually happened.

I feel like that’s something all of us have to go through. We all have those moments where we don’t fully understand what’s going on or believe that it’s happened until we’re in the midst of it. When we get those dreaded calls that someone died, that cancer hit, that our significant other is leaving, or that life as we know it is going to change, there’s always that moment where we say, “This can’t be happening. This is a joke. You’re crazy.”

Disbelief and skepticism are normal parts of everyday life. In our fallen world, it’s almost inevitable that these two components will occur, maybe even multiple times a day.

It should come as a relief that we aren’t the only people, in 2016 (still weird to type that out), to ever experience disbelief. All throughout history, from the beginning of time, people have questioned what’s happening, even disbelieving what they’ve been told was going to happen.

Yesterday, as I was spending time reading God’s Word and praying, I opened up the He Reads Truth app to read Genesis 17 and 18.

Pause for a moment. If you’re a dude who’s trying to find a great way to spend time in the Bible on a daily basis with devotional content attached to Scripture, you should check out He Reads Truth. For $1.99 a plan on the app (which usually lasts between 15 and 31 days), it’s worth the small cost to read some deep theological content. If you read using your web browser, it’s free! If you’re a dude-ette, check out She Reads Truth. A bunch of my female friends highly recommend it, and it’s the parent company for He Reads Truth, so I can only imagine that it’s amazing too.

Shameless plug over. Back to Genesis 17 and 18. Genesis, being the first book of the Old Testament, the first of the Hebrew Bible, and the first book that all Hebrew children in Beth Talmud would memorize, is literally all about beginnings. It describes how God created the universe, set His creation into motion, and gave foundation to the people of Israel. During the first 16 chapters, as an overview, we see the first man and first woman committed the first sin and broke the relationship between God and man, God flooded the earth to wipe out the wicked and saved one man and his family, and God called a man named Abram out of a foreign land in order to begin the line of His chosen people.

So Genesis 17 happens. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, from “exalted father” to “father of a multitude”, and establishes a covenant with him in order to set the offspring of Abraham apart from the nations: circumcision. If you don’t know what that is, then go to Google and search for “circumcision”; you’ll get a WebMD definition that’s safe. At this point, newly-renamed Abraham is already kind of skeptical. At almost 100 years old (people lived a REALLY long time back then), he already was resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to fulfill the meaning of his name, since his wife Sarai (lit., “quarrelsome”), renamed to Sarah (lit., “princess”), was barren.

That’s not all God did though. God told Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah. Abraham responds to God after He does all this and says, “I’m old. Sarah’s old, AND barren. How is that possible?” (Gen. 17:17, paraphrased) The verse says that Abraham laughed, which could really mean he gasped in disbelief. Abraham didn’t believe that God was going to do this. How could He when age and natural processes have brought both past the point of bearing children?

As Genesis 17 closes, Abraham honors what God covenanted with him by taking Ishmael, who is Abraham’s son through Sarah’s slave, and the rest of the men working for him and circumcises them.

Pause again. It’s pretty amazing that Abraham still does this and honors the covenant, even though he doesn’t fully believe that God will come through with this promise of bringing him a son through Sarah. This will come into play later, so put that in your memory.

Back to Genesis. As Genesis 18 comes into view, Abraham welcomes three men, which verse 1 says is God appearing once again. Being hospitable, Abraham prepares a meal for them, and the men ask, “Where’s your wife?” They go on to say, “Next year, we’ll come back and your wife will have a child” (Genesis 18:10, paraphrased). What does Sarah, who is eavesdropping on the conversation, do? She laughs. The text actually says, “The way of women had ceased to be with [her].” She had gone through “the change.” Ask your mom if you don’t know what that is.

Now here’s where the biggest, most important statement that underlines all of what God does throughout all history. When confirming the truth that what they had said will indeed happen, the men say to her, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (v. 14a) Clearly, based on what happens from this moment forward, the answer is a resounding no.

This question is reminder to Sarah that, even though there was little to no human chance that this would ever happen, God was involved and can do anything.

Russ Ramsey wrote this about Sarah in his devotion on this passage:

Sarah was beautiful. Even at 65, her beauty was so compelling that Abraham lied and told people she was his sister so they would honor him for her sake, as opposed to killing him so that they might take her as their own wife (Genesis 12:11-20). The irony was not lost on Sarah. She was alive with beauty, but in a place no one could see, she was dead. In an area she most wanted to be alive, she was not. She was barren—outwardly beautiful while inwardly hurting.

She heard God’s promise. She heard that she was going to have a son. Everything was stacked against her. So, she “laughed.” This laugh was more of a scoff out of frustration. So, the men called her on it, and rebuked her for laughing (vv.13-15).

Here’s the main point of this whole thing: in spite of our disbelief of God’s promises, He will certainly come through at the right time.

God gave a timeline to Abraham and Sarah, and in that timeline, He provided. Fast forward a year, and there Sarah is holding her son, Isaac. God promised, and God provided, in the midst of pure disbelief and the odds being stacked against Sarah.

Nothing’s changed about God. He does what He says He’s going to do. The Major and Minor Prophets prove that. Jesus’ coming proves that even further. Every word that God spoke had a timeline, and in that timeline, God has come through each and every time.

What does that mean for us? What does God fulfilling His promise to Sarah have to do with us in 2016?

The personal, one-on-one promises that God has made to us will come through and be fulfilled. All you have to do is trust Him. Practically speaking, sometimes you have to actively and constantly say, “God, I trust you, even though I don’t know what’s going on or how it’s going to happen.” Trusting God can be messy. It can be unclear. It can be scary. But, it’s always worth it.

This whole thing is hard for me to type. One of my biggest struggles in my relationship with God is trusting Him with dating relationships. I have a hard time surrendering that area of my life to God and giving over control when it comes to seeking out a relationship. I have a really hard time believing that God will come through and provide with that.

It all really came to a head yesterday morning. As I read that devotional about Sarah, it was quite clear that God had something to say to me. I knew exactly what He was saying: Is anything too hard for Me? Do you really think that I’m not going to provide for you in that way at just the right time?

When my heart and mind scream and long for a relationship, and the loneliness that comes from not having that relationship wells up, all I can do is say, “God, I trust you, even though I don’t know what’s going on or how it’s going to happen.”

Trusting in God for the promises that He’s made are so worth it. I challenge you to trust that God will provide, even when it seems impossible, or frustrating, or downright ridiculous.

What’s one thing that you didn’t believe the first time you heard it?

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