Sometimes, it feels as though faith is a puzzle that must be assembled correctly. There are two especially puzzling things about faith personal to me. The first is frustration. I get frustrated that I don’t understand faith. Oh, how frustrated I get that my puzzle pieces are not assembled correctly, and I don’t have a clear picture of what faith looks like. This leads directly to the second puzzling thing - guilt. Sometimes, I either feel guilty I don’t have enough puzzle pieces or just when I think I have it figured out, I am missing the last piece of the puzzle.
The good news is I have found an example in scripture that shows my thinking is completely backwards. Faith isn’t a puzzle after all and I’m not missing pieces either. The good news is the simple story about the Angel of the LORD telling Abraham he would have a son within a year, and Sarah overhearing the conversation. It is a story of laughter, which of course is the meaning of the name Abraham and Sarah give to their son, Isaac, when this promise was fulfilled. Isaac means laughter.
Laughing Off Faith
Abraham was 98 years old when he was told he would have a son. This was the second time Abraham heard this prophecy. The first time he doubled-over in laughter. Sarah was 88 when she overheard the prophetic announcement and she laughed too.
I believe there is a difference between Abraham’s laughter and Sarah’s laughter. When Sarah laughed she was questioned about it. She was questioned by God about it.
God asked, “Why did laugh?”
Sarah lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”
Abraham laughed too, but God never questioned him about his laughter. I’m making the following observation that is completely my own opinion. Abraham was laughing out of joy. He had faith that God would bring about his promise. God had been faithful to Abraham along every step of his journey from his homeland. Abraham believed God would continue to be faithful. Sarah, on the other hand, laughed in disbelief. “Ha!” she said, “I’m having a baby at my age. Ha, ha! Yeah, right God! You’re going to give me a son, ha, ha, ha!”
Does Our Disbelief Stop God?
If my observation of Abraham is right it showed that he had faith. It also shows that Sarah did not have faith. Did Sarah’s lack of faith stop God from delivering on his promise? No! It did not!
David Feddes, a professor at Christian Leaders Institute, says, “Faulty faith doesn’t stop God’s irresistible grace or prevent his promises from coming true. Sarah may have laughed in disbelief, but did that stop God? No, says the Bible. ‘The LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said and the LORD did for Sarah as he had promised.’ That is what happened. God was faithful in his promise to Sarah even though she obviously had a lack of faith.”
This story made me think of my own frustration and guilt over what I thought was a puzzle of faith. I asked myself, “Does this stop God from fulfilling promises to me?” It does not stop God! Not only does he fulfill his promises to me, he sends mighty blessings my way, and he is working out his plan for my life regardless of my conundrum over the enigma of faith. As I watch God’s faithfulness and grace, my faith becomes more established and it grows deeper.
Grace Creates Faith
“Don’t think God’s promise is based on our faith. It’s the other way around. Our faith is based on God’s promise. Some people have the idea that God looks ahead to see who will have faith and gives grace and life to those who he foresees will have the proper degree of faith. But that is backward. It is grace that creates faith, not faith that creates grace. “ - David Feddes
Doesn’t that make you feel happy! Grace creates the faith. God’s grace in fulfilling promises to us. God’s grace in blessing us. God’s grace in sending his son to die for us creates faith. As we continue to be faithful and as we continue to walk along with him, our faith takes root. It becomes established. It grows.
Yes, Sarah laughed in disbelief but God’s faithfulness in fulfilling his promise to her caused her faith to take root. In fact it took root so deeply that she is mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11.
Is faith really a puzzle?
No, it is not. Just look at God’s faithfulness in your life. Look at the grace he has given. Over time, your faith will deepen and grow as well. This makes me laugh. It makes me laugh with joy. Perhaps, one day I can get over my frustration and guilt. Perhaps I can just smile and say, “God’s grace is building faith in my life.”