What comes out of me when I am frustrated? When I am weak and weary? Sarcasm. It’s a tell-tale sign that something ugly is going on inside of me. For me, it is sort of like a red flag warning that I am heading in the wrong direction.
That is why I can relate and empathize with Abraham in Genesis 17. (Remember I am reading through my Chronological Bible so now I am up to Abraham) He has already been waiting almost 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise of an heir. That is a long, long time to wait after hearing from God Almighty about a sure thing! I can bet he was wondering, “How long does this take?! You are God so what is the holdup?”
God was trying to affirm him in his waiting by telling him in verses 15-16 how nations and kings of peoples were going to come from he and his wife. But I imagine he was thinking “After almost 25 years, I would be thrilled with just one baby boy!”
After all that time, after all the promises, the “build up” was causing a break down of hope. Time and struggle were getting to him. What makes me think this? In verse 17 it says, ” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?'”
First of all, you don’t fall facedown out of glee usually. Have you been there? I have! When I am at my wit’s end, I fall facedown before Him out of desperation. Next, it says he laughed. To me, that is not a joyful laugh but one of sarcasm. Unfortunately, I can imagine the scene all too well. When I feel I have been hanging on forever for relief,or a hope, or promise, I can start to feel sarcastic when reminders come as to what I am wanting so desperately. Another reason I think it was out of sarcasm is that he laughed and said to himself basically, “Will a son be born to me NOW?!” He did not say this out loud to God as much as under his breath to himself.
When sarcasm rears it’s ugly head, there is something worse not far behind…..and that is cynicism. In other words, discouragement turns into disbelief. Oh how I have been there! Now the ugly comes out of a heart that is breaking and bitterness sets in.
Have you ever been bitter against what God is doing, or not doing? I have…….Are we allowed to say that? To feel that? It’s not pretty but it is the truth, as ashamed as it makes me feel to a God who has given up His One and Only Son for my sin. He deserves so much more than I can give Him from my feeble, fickle heart. That is what makes God’s grace so profound and appealing. It is what I don’t deserve!! Which fuels my worship even more!
Lastly, we see Abraham in verse 18 say to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” He is willing to settle for less if he can just be done with the waiting. How many of us have felt the sting of that concession in life?! We get to the “If only…..” when we are ready to give up the hope, the promise, because sarcasm has turned into cynicism, and then bitterness. We resort to making things happen our way, in our time, or we just give up all together. And like Abraham, we suffer the long lasting consequences.
What dreams have you been tempted to give up? What hope is at risk of being dashed? What promise do you feel is for other people, but not you? May we remember the rest of Abraham’s story and the long awaited son who came one year later!
Our hope is not wasted. God uses time for refining our hearts and faith. We will be all the better for it as we gain intimacy with our Lord while we wait. And one day, like Abraham and Sarah, our faith will become sight! Until that day, may hope prevail and sarcasm be lost!