It would be impossible to overstate how vastly different the announcements in these two chapters are. The first was a blessing and the next a curse. The first was news of joy and the second news of disaster. Naturally, these wildly differing announcements would evoke starkly different reactions, right? Wrong. Upon hearing that she and Abraham would have a son in their old age, Sarah laughed. The Lord’s response indicates that Sarah was struggling to believe that God could perform such a miracle. At the very least, she was having trouble getting her head around the idea. Laughter–did she think God was joking? Well, Lot’s sons-in-law did, or at least they thought Lot was joking when he warned them to flee the city’s coming destruction.
These are not easy passages to read. The wickedness of Sodom’s residents was appalling and dehumanizing, both for those they sought to abuse and for themselves. This passage shows us how dangerous sin is. It distorts and twists the image of God in humanity beyond recognition. It is evil to treat with disdain those upon whom God has bestowed dignity. Evil is no joke. But neither is God’s relentless pursuit of the restoration of humanity and all that He has made. Through the twists and turns of the story–and Genesis 19 has a lot of those–we see a God who doesn’t give up on His people. He doesn’t require perfection–Abraham, Sarah, and Lot’s family make that clear–but He does invite us to believe.
Matthew 9 is another chapter with a lot happening. You might not have time to read it all right now, but the response Jesus received in verse 24 sounds especially familiar. When Jesus arrived at the home of the ruler who had asked him to come and revive his daughter who had died, “He said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.” Let’s just admit it: Jesus says some things that are hard to believe. Why? Because sin and evil have distorted and twisted God’s design and purpose for our lives, which is exactly why Jesus came–to restore in us what sin has stolen. And even when it is hard to believe it can be done, He is able. Matthew 9:25 reports, “But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.” You can trust Jesus.