June 18, 2023

Is There Anything too Hard for the Lord?

Passage: Genesis 18:1-15

Prayer for Illumination

Amid the distractions of our times, give us undivided hearts and attentive minds, O God. Help us discern Your wisdom in the scriptures, so that we may follow Christ, Your living Word. Amen.

19 years ago, when my family arrived in Malaysia as a missionary family, there was nothing - no house, no car, no money - waiting for us, except a missionary family who had been ministering there for years. For the first few days, we stayed in their house, looking for a place to move in. But as a foreigner, it was not easy to rent a place or buy a used car. Also, we couldn’t speak Malay or Chinese, so communication was very difficult. Everything seemed impossible.

And then God started opening doors. Within a week, we were able to find a clean, affordable, nice apartment, borrow a used car, and enroll our girls in an English-speaking kindergarten operated by a Chinese church for free. It just happened quickly and perfectly and we were all amazed by God’s wondrous work.

During the time we were living in Malaysia, God sent us so many angels and provided everything we needed. After a year and a few months, we had to come back to Vancouver, but we literally had no money to purchase plane tickets.

Again, miraculously God sent more than enough money to purchase plane tickets from Malaysia to Korea, from Korea to Vancouver for our family through my cousin with whom I hadn’t talked for years. I just cried with joy. It seemed like God was smiling at us, saying, “Is anything too hard for me?”

Continuing from last week, we’re studying the story of Abraham in the book of Genesis. Last Sunday, Abram was 75 years old and today, he’s 99 years old. In a week, he’s 24 years older. I hope we don’t get older that fast. Let me summarize those 24 years briefly.

In Genesis 12, God called Abram and promised him that God would make him into a great nation and make his name great and that he would be blessed and be a blessing. God appeared to Abram again and told him, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars - if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” Gen 15:6 says, “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” And God made a covenant with Abram.

After 10 years since God promised a son to Abram and Sarai, there was no sign of pregnancy. Abram was 85 years old and Sarai was 75 years old. So Sarai planned to have a son through a surrogate mother, Hagar. Abram also agreed with Sarai’s plan, and he slept with Hagar. I don’t know about you, but as for me, I cannot really blame them. They had been waiting for God’s promise to be answered for 10 years. They were getting older and older, and they thought that they’d better help God to accomplish what He had promised. And it seemed reasonable and realistic.

As they planned, Hagar was pregnant. Everything seemed to be working out well. However, the problem arose. Hagar went around the family with a haughty grin and began looking down on Sarai because she was carrying Abram’s child. And of course, Sarai couldn’t tolerate the disrespectful attitude of Hagar, her maidservant. Abram was on Sarai’s side, and with his approval, she mistreated Hagar, and Hagar ran away. But God comforted Hagar, and she returned to Abram and Sarai. She gave birth to a son, Ishmael.

Another 13 years passed since they had Ishmael. God appeared to Abram again - now Abram is 99 years old - and confirmed the covenant He made with Abram. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai to Sarah. God continued, “AS for Sarah, I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” So, God repeatedly told Abraham that he would have a son.

Today’s text begins, “while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day”. Abraham had sought relief from the stifling midday desert heat by sitting in the shade provided by his tent. Those who have been to the desert area or hottest places like Death Valley in California, Turkey, Israel, or Malaysia, may know how it is scorching hot at midday. You don’t even want to move your finger or certainly run under the blazing sun.

Yet, when Abraham saw three men standing nearby, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He invited them in and hurried to Sarah to tell her to bake bread. Then he ran to order a young tender calf to be prepared for the guests. Moreover, while the guests were eating, Abraham served his guests standing near them.

I mean it was a courtesy or social obligation in the ancient Eastern world to welcome strangers and feed them. Hospitality to the stranger was recognized as a sacred duty. But what Abraham did was not out of obligation, but a godly hospitality. There was no hesitation. It was generous! It was humble! He was 99 years old, and he was running around to make the guests feel valued; honored; welcomed; served!

Some might say that because Abraham knew that the strangers were not ordinary guests. But Abraham didn’t know that they were the Lord and the angels. Hebrews ch 13 v 2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

After finishing eating, they asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” Probably, that moment, when they asked for his wife, knowing exactly the name God gave to Sarah, Abraham realized that He was the Lord. Then the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

The announcement was so astonishing to the 89-year-old Sarah, who had been eavesdropping by listening to the conversation at the entrance to the tent. According to Genesis 11:30, Sarah had always been barren, even during her childbearing years. Now she was beyond the childbearing years. She laughed to herself in unbelief, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then God asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ God countered Sarah’s rhetorical question with one of His own: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” In other words, God answered Sarah’s unbelief with His assurance: “Nothing is too hard for me!”

When Sarah doubted the promise, she was questioning both God’s truthfulness and His ability. God’s Word never fails but accomplishes everything God intends for it to do. If we truly believe with hearts of faith that God is who He says He is, nothing will shake our confidence in Him. When God makes a promise, we can be sure He has the power to fulfill it.

Genesis 21: 1-2 says, “The Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.”

The truth is that we are like Sarah. We sometimes doubt that God will keep His promises. We disbelieve the Lord’s power to do what He says He will do in His Word. Maybe you’ve been praying for something for a long time and you’ve almost given up on praying because it seems like God is not answering. Sometimes, we just try to solve problems or to accomplish our goal with our own effort and our own strength.

Why do you think God waited so long to give the promised child to Sarah? God waited until it was humanly impossible for the child of the covenant to be born in order to show that it was not by human effort but by a work of divine and sovereign grace. When all human resources were exhausted, when Abraham and Sarah were absolutely unable to bear a child, God gave the promise — a promise that carries the power of God’s own fulfillment.

Did God bring forth the child of the covenant from fertile Hagar or barren Sarah? Did God bring forth Jesus from married Elizabeth or The Virgin Mary? Did God save you from unbelief by your own power and righteousness or His?

God’s question to Sarah ought to encourage us to examine our own hearts. Are there any obstacles of doubt standing between you and God? Do you harbor unbeliefs that cause you to laugh at the Lord’s promises? If you look at only your hopeless situation, your weakness, and your inability, instead of God’s power and His ability, then, yes, it is so natural for you to doubt.

Is your situation too hopeless for God to fulfill His promise? Is your prayer request too complicated for God to answer? Do you think you are too old for God to use you? Do you think our church is too small for God to revive? Is your child too stubborn for God to save?

Brothers and sisters, doubt displays our lack of faith in God’s ability to do what He has said He can do. Whatever you are facing, trust Him now. No matter how high the mountain you have to climb, how dark the valley you have to pass, how deep the water you have to cross, and how strong the storm you have to endure, He will never leave you. Remember:

There is no PROMISE too hard for the Lord to fulfill
There is no PRAYER too hard for the Lord to answer
There is no PROBLEM too hard for the Lord to solve
There is no PLACE too hard for the Lord to revive
There is no PERSON too hard for the Lord to save.

When God asks us today, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” our answer will be a resounding, “No! Nothing is too hard for the Lord.” Amen.

Let us pray.

What a mighty God we serve. You are trustworthy and powerful and there’s nothing too hard for You. In Your appointed time, in Your perfect time, in Your perfect way, You keep Your promises. O Lord, help us overcome our unbelief and grant us faith. We praise You, Promise Keeper. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.