I had no idea there would be a "Part II" to my last post, but it was pretty amazing how God opened my eyes to the exact topic of that post in the portion of the Genesis study I was going to teach next at church, and that I hadn't remembered before. Genesis 18 tells us how Sarah laughed (and lied!) when God said she would have a baby in a year. Genesis 21 tells us she had the baby. A reading straight from Genesis would seem that God did it despite her unbelief.
But, reading most of the major translations (other than NIV), we find Hebrews 11:11 telling us something like this (which is from the ESV): By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
If you didn't catch that, read it again. It is huge! Somewhere between Sarah's laughter and lie and unbelief, and the conception of Isaac, Sarah took her thoughts captive and chose to believe God even though nothing had changed in her physical condition. I believe her battle occurred on two fronts. One, could God do it? She laughed like, "Yeah, right. That's too hard for even God!" But Genesis 18 records the Lord challenging that and saying, basically, "Is anything to hard for God?" Faced with that blunt challenge we would all agree that nothing is too hard for the God who envisions galaxies and ecosystems and bloodstreams and then speaks them forth.
Then, Hebrews 11:11 reveals the second front of her challenge. God's character. Believing now that God could, would He? She then decided that He who had promised was faithful. That is exactly what the cages I talked about last time are like. I don't even have a "cage" for "can God" because I believe He can. My doubts and fears and feelings originate in trust issues and when I look honestly at God and take my feelings captive to Him using the cages I talked about last time I realize that, yes, I can trust God even when nothing has changed in my physical situation.
The awesome conclusion to all of this is that AFTER Sarah chose to trust and believe God, ultimately choosing to put His character as her highest truth, this faith awakened the power to bring God's word to pass! By faith she received the power to conceive! Wow!
Think of the Israelites who had the promised land "given" to them by God in His spoken Word but who, on the 10 spy's reports, chose fear instead of faith and rejected God's character to fulfill His Word. They wandered in the wilderness and missed their destiny until a new generation arrived that chose faith instead of fear. The enemy hadn't changed. If anything the land was more fully in his hands. What changed was that they chose to believe and trust God. They received the fulfillment of God's Word. Their faith brought out the life in God's Word. So did Sarah's, and it began with taking thoughts captive and not allowing in her heart any thought that she realized didn't originate with God or wasn't consistent with God, His Word, or His character.