Summary: When you're tempted to laugh at God in disbelief, listen to Him anyway and do what He says.
In 1993 FBI agents conducted a raid of Southwood psychiatric hospital in San Diego, which was under investigation for medical insurance fraud. After hours of reviewing medical records, the agents had worked up an appetite. The agent in charge of the investigation called a nearby pizza place to order a quick dinner for his colleagues.
According to snopes.com, a site dedicated to investigating urban legends, the following telephone conversation actually took place.
Agent: Hello. I would like to order 19 large pizzas and 67 cans of soda.
Pizza Man: And where would you like them delivered?
Agent: We're over at the psychiatric hospital.
Pizza Man: The psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That's right. I'm an FBI agent.
Pizza Man: You're an FBI agent?
Agent: That's correct. Just about everybody here is.
Pizza Man: And you're at the psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That's correct. And make sure you don't go through the front doors. We have them locked. You will have to go around to the back to the service entrance to deliver the pizzas.
Pizza Man: And you say you're all FBI agents?
Agent: That's right. How soon can you have them here?
Pizza Man: And everyone at the psychiatric hospital is an FBI agent?
Agent: That's right. We've been here all day and we're starving.
Pizza Man: How are you going to pay for all of this?
Agent: I have my checkbook right here.
Pizza Man: And you're all FBI agents?
Agent: That's right. Everyone here is an FBI agent. Can you remember to bring the pizzas and sodas to the service entrance in the rear? We have the front doors locked.
Pizza Man: I don't think so. *Click* (Kevin A. Miller, vice president, Christianity Today International; source: www.vasthumor.isfunny.com; and www.snopes.com)
Some things are just too incredible to believe, even when they are true. And that’s the way it is with many of God’s promises. God promises to “supply ALL our needs according to HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Or God promises to “work ALL things together for good” (Romans 8:28). Or God says, “You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you WILL be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
God makes some incredible promises, and sometimes we think, “There is no way those could come true.” I get too tongue-tied to be a witness for Christ. Or my situation is too bad for any good could come from it. Or my needs are too great. Sometimes we find God’s Word to be too incredible to believe, even when we know it’s true.
So what do we do in those times? How do we handle times of doubt and disbelief? How do we respond when we find God too hard to believe? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 17, Genesis 17, where we see how the man of faith responds in times of doubt.
Genesis 17:15-18 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah [which means “princess”] shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” (ESV)
Abraham laughed when he heard God’s promise. He couldn’t believe it! After all, you don’t see very many 90-year old pregnant women walking around.
And Besides, Abraham HAS a son, Ishmael, who is already 13 years old at this time. God doesn’t have to do any miracle to give Abraham many descendants. All He has to do is bless Ishmael. At least that’s what Abraham thinks: “Let Ishmael grow up, get a wife, and have lots of babies,” he tells God. “We’re too old for that sort of thing.” But that’s not God’s plan.
Genesis 17:19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac [which means, “he laughs”]. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. (ESV)
Abraham’s laughter of doubt will become a laughter of delight when Isaac is born.
Genesis 17:20-22 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.” When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. (ESV)