I’m always amazed when I read the words of Hebrews 11:11, which say: “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.” I’m amazed, because when we read the account of Sarah and the birth of Isaac in Genesis, it seems less than trusting.
In Genesis 16 we see how, after waiting ten years, Sarah decided that God was preventing her from bearing children. And for this reason, she encouraged Abraham to marry her servant, that they might build a family through her. Hagar did conceive and bear a son by Abraham. However, God made it clear that this was not the child of promise.
Then, in Genesis 18, we see how God came to Abraham. And God promised him that, by the next year, he and Sarah would have a son. Sarah overheard this conversation, and her response was laughter. She said to herself: “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
Yet, even though this is true of her, even though she did struggle with her doubts, we find in Hebrews that God counted her faithful. We find that, by faith, Sarah received the power to conceive. And this wasn’t merely the power to conceive as most women. It was miraculous because she was past the age of childbearing.
I find this comforting because, as I consider Sarah, I find that my faith resembles hers more than I care to admit. Even though I too have received a great promise of God, it’s sometimes difficult to believe. It’s difficult to believe because it seems beyond reason. It’s difficult to believe because of the circumstances in which I find myself.
At times, I find it hard to comprehend the fact that God would want to save someone like me. I find it hard to comprehend that he’d want me to spend eternity in his presence. Because of my failures, it seems unreasonable.
I also find it hard to believe because of the circumstances in which I find myself. I’m a sinner, with no power to escape my condition. I live in a world of sin, with evil all around me. I’m tempted and lured by the evil one, who seeks my destruction. And considering these circumstances, my situation seems hopeless. I can only be saved by the miraculous power of God.
Even though I generally believe, there are times when faith is a struggle. There are times when it seems easier to pursue a blessing by my own means rather than trusting in God. There have been times when his promise has brought me to laughter.
Yet, in spite of my human response, and in spite of my doubts, God also counts me as faithful. In spite of my sin, my faith is counted to me as righteousness. And, for this reason, I am enabled to receive the blessings of God.