Finicky Hope (Sunday Thoughts #3)

GENESIS 18:10-12

10 Then the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

 

We do not know how old Sarah was exactly when God visited Abraham to make this declaration of her surprise fertility. But she was old enough to have been described as barren and to have given over her maidservant, Hagar, to bear the fruit that she could not. Old enough to grow desperate. Old enough to grow bitter. Old enough to laugh when God speaks.

I would have done it too. Over the course of our infertility, too many things went wrong for me to consider God unexpectedly generous. Thousands of dollars, hundreds of needles, and a miscarriage had left me suspicious. To be perfectly honest, this was already a fundamental aspect of my nature. A gift certificate for a massage. Thanks, do I seem tense? An extra offer of help at the grocery store. Are Charlie and I making too much of a scene? Because I feel like I have to earn people’s affection, it takes me off guard when it comes unawares. This is illogical. I know.

When we got pregnant with Charlie I grew hopeful and my view of God grew brighter. All those desert years were mere training, so that I could sing his goodness from the rooftops while finally round with child. But of course when we received Charlie’s diagnosis, that view dimmed. God was a trickster. Foolish of me to have thought otherwise. When the twins burrowed into the picture I was done psychoanalyzing God. He had me flummoxed.

I think we all do this. We rationalize away everyday miracles because we don’t want to get our hopes up or we are too busy waiting for the next calamity. We can’t/won’t walk around with our palms open to receive blessings because we don’t want to end the day empty-handed, once again the dupe. Whenever our pastor asks us to life our hands to receive the benediction it makes me feel defenseless, like being recruited to play that hand-slapping game and waiting for the sting. Thank goodness God’s decisions are not based on my emotional maturity. Because if God can turn a laughing, snarky Sarah into the mother of the nations, then surely he can do something with my panicky distrust. That’s what I’m going to start asking for: trust that there are miracles and a vulnerability with which to spot them.

We are living in a world now where miracles seem hard won. Too many big bad things in the news and in our daily lives darken the vision of “the future.” It’s enough to turn anyone wary. But in this new year, I’m at least going to try to live more expectantly of the good things than the bad. After all, the wardrobe was only full of possibility to those who knew to look.

What is your hope for the New Year?

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