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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, June 11, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Genesis 21:1–7

The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (NRSV)

The birth of Isaac is a fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 17—a promise that Abraham would be “the ancestor of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:4) and that Sarah “shall bear [them] a son, and [they] shall name him Isaac” (Genesis 17:19). The name Isaac is a play on the Hebrew word “to laugh”—a wry commentary on Abraham and Sarah’s incredulous reaction that they would have a son in their advanced age, but also a reminder of the joy that this child would bring them.

This unexpected fulfillment of a seemingly unfulfillable promise is a common occurrence throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. God constantly subverts expectations, whether through leaders like Moses, through prophets like Isaiah, or through Jesus—the messiah who would suffer and die yet be resurrected. Almost every person in the Bible that we spend an extended period of time with experienced periods of self-doubt, a wavering of trust, or an uncertainty about what God had called them to. But passages like this are a reminder that—in the fullness of time—God’s promises to us will always be kept, no matter how unfulfillable they may seem.

That phrase “in the fullness of time” is a crucial one. All of us have grown frustrated with God not answering our prayers how and when we may have wanted. But through the challenging and difficult times, may we have and hold hope in God—the God who always keeps promises.

God, you who are my rock and refuge, even during times of uncertainty or doubt in my life may you always remind me that you are there and that your promises remain. For that I give thanks. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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