February 20: Encountering the Unbelievable


Lenten Devotion: Encountering the Unbelievable

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Encountering the Unbelievable
Genesis 18:9-15

In today’s scripture, we hear the story of God’s promise to Sarah that she and Abraham will have a child, even though she is well beyond child-bearing years. We hear of God’s promise, and we hear the story of a foremother’s response to encountering the unbelievable circumstances of her life, which in these first moments are largely ones of disbelief. Sarah laughs, she questions, she sits in fear, and then finally lies about all of these responses. The text says that God responds to Sarah’s lie by simply saying, “Yes you did.” What strikes me is both the spectrum of Sarah’s responses, and the way that God hears and sees all of them. God mirrors Sarah’s responses back to her, and stays present with her in her journey to Isaac’s birth a year later, when in Genesis 21:6 she laughs again, this time in joy.

When I sit with encounters of the unbelievable in my own life – an unexpected experience of healing, a surprising diagnosis, or an absurd birthing of new life – I am struck by how these moments can drill down to raw response and emotion that span the spectrum from joy to grief.  As we open to this Lenten time of honing our relationship with the Divine, I feel encouraged by Sarah’s story to trust in God’s presence with us, as we open to all of the emotions that we can encounter as we face the unbelievable joys and sorrows of our lives. My prayer for today is that I, and we, would rest in the deep knowing that in our disbelief, in our fear, in our joy, in our laughter – God sees us, God hears us, God accompanies us.  Amen.

Julie Barnes