“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” – Genesis 18:14
My Bible reading plan for the year has started over and I am currently in the books of Genesis and Matthew. This verse made me stop and ponder for a second how absurd it is that I ever question God’s authority but also doubt His ability to carry out the impossible (or even sometimes the possible, sadly). Considering the fact that God is omnipotent, possesses infinite power to do whatever pleases Him, this question is a no-brainer, lay up shot of an answer. Of course, nothing is too hard for Him. We can answer this in an instant from our minds and our hearts be far from resting in that truth.
How often my own heart forgets this truth throughout the day! May the Lord have mercy on me. Is this not the very root of sin itself, that is, doubt and unbelief that it is within God’s power to do the impossible, let alone just doubt and unbelief alone? Many times, the skepticism and practical atheism of our culture seeps into our own thinking and we can doubt God on a personal level which leads to anxiety and misery, a heart that ceases to be at rest in Christ Himself who controls all things with His powerful word. In many (if not most) spiritual circles of our society now, doubt is a virtue! Yet if doubt and unbelief are the roots of sin, our society is openly embracing unbelief.
We must all be on guard that we are not falling into the world’s snares of unbelief, on a moment by moment basis. Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Absolutely not. At the same time, in trusting the Lord in this truth, we must remember that it may be that He sovereignly chooses not to act (though of course in Abraham’s case the Lord promised He would), even though it is within His power to perform the impossible. This has been the case for martyrs throughout the centuries. He chose not to act to rescue them for His own glory and purposes. Does it negate His goodness and righteousness for Him to act in this way? Not at all. Rather we (as well as those martyrs) rest on the promise of Romans 8:28-30.
Our hope is not set on temporal things, but rather upon the eternal life God has granted to His people, the hope that we will live with God Himself, seeing His face, forever. We do not set our hope on whether God will rescue us from our temporal trials, for it may very well be that He won’t, for reasons known only to Him. Rather, our hope rests in Him and His promises He has covenanted to us through the blood of Christ. Our God, the One true God, is mighty to save.
May He by His Spirit free us from that which hinders our complete trust and belief in Him and His promises. May we sit and wait upon His acting in our hearts to do exactly that. It is the unbelief at the root of all our external sinning that causes us so much misery and anxiety in our lives.
Your observations are very true. If we really believe in the God who created all things and Who died for our sins through His Son, then why not trust Him to do the impossible – like actually change our hearts of stone into ones of flesh, so to speak, in His lifelong process of sanctification? A devotional today by Chris Tiegreen focused on James 1:2-7, where his key verse was 5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” Tiegreen’s comment was: “Asking for God’s wisdom and receiving it brings us into relationship with Him. The wisdom we receive is not information imparted, but character learned. We observe who He is and we learn to behave like Him. We come to know Him better in the process. His wisdom is readily available, but we must ask…” The following verses to the one above tie in to what you wrote: “6 But let him ask in faith with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” And in James 4:2-3, “You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Those verses hit home. On a personal level, it is so simple but I make it hard because of unbelief. I often ask why I don’t grow more in Christ. James seems to have answered that question clearly. Leaving the ‘I’ out altogether and focusing on the Lord – what He has done and who He is – would seem to be a good plan also. But even doing that must come from God. We are totally dependent on Him in every way – need to believe it and trust Him.
And we need to know that He is willing to do exactly that, we must submit ourselves to Him, seeking His operation in our hearts and patiently wait upon Him.
Good quote from Martin Luther: “God has surely promised His grace to the humbled, that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends, absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and works of Another – God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God.”