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Home » What I Wish I Would Have Realized Years Ago
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What I Wish I Would Have Realized Years Ago

Published in the issue.

<i>Abraham Entertaining the Angels</i>. Etching and drypoint by Rembrandt van Rijn. 1656.
Abraham Entertaining the Angels. Etching and drypoint by Rembrandt van Rijn. 1656.

In Genesis 18, the biblical patriarch Abraham welcomes three mysterious visitors. These men ask Abraham about his wife Sarah. Up to this point, the book has emphasized that Sarah has been unable to have children. What’s more, she is now well beyond the age of childbearing. Nevertheless, the visitors tell him, “This time next year your wife Sarah will have a son.”

At this, Sarah, who’s been eavesdropping from afar, can’t help but burst out laughing. There’s no way; this is all too much.

The visitors, who are instantly and mystifyingly revealed to be the LORD, ask, “Is anything too hard for me? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Reflecting on this passage, the late biblical scholar Ernst Käsemann wrote, “Sarah’s laughter is faith’s constant companion.”[1] When asked whether he doubts, the priest in the British television series Fleabag says roughly the same thing: “Yes, of course. Every day. It’s part of the deal.”

I have found great comfort in Käsemann’s reflection. Doubt and even unbelief have been an ever-present companion on my Christian pilgrimage. Feeling bad about it hasn’t done my faith any favors; trying to have more faith hasn’t helped either. What I wish I would have realized years ago is that the Christian faith isn’t really about my faith. It’s about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s about the one who “raises the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Rom. 4:17) It’s about the one who creates faith where there is none.

So next time you find yourself in the midst of doubt, don’t look to your faith. Fear not, and look to the one who, just like for Sarah, makes a way out of no way.

[1] Käsemann, Ernst, Perspectives on Paul [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971] 69.