“So Sarah laughed to herself …. But Sarah denied saying, ‘I did not laugh’ for she was afraid. [God] said, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’” Genesis 18: 2a, 15 (NRSV)
The story of old Abraham and Sarah and the subsequent birth of their son, Isaac, has always been a favorite of mine. God promises to make of them a great nation when as septuagenarians, they had no heir. With the best of intentions to help God out they acknowledge that Eliezer of Damascus, a slave born in their house, could be their heir. And God said, “No.” Later with the best of intentions to help God out, Sarah suggests that her husband, Abraham, take her servant Hagar and that together they might produce an heir for their family. Even though Hagar gave birth to a son, who was named Ishmael, God said that Abraham and Sarah would be blessed with a child of their own. Abraham and Sarah are now nonagenarians and we can well imagine them thinking to themselves, “Excuse me God, but our biological clocks have ticked. We are well past the prime time of life to contend with two o’clock feedings, changing dirty diapers, and having the energy and stamina to care for an infant and see that child through the terrible twos, the trying teens and into young adulthood.” If God read their thoughts especially as God reads ours, then it is easy enough to imagine God chuckling and saying, “They do have a point! It is out of the ordinary for two people who could easily qualify age wise as grandparents, if not great grandparents, becoming first time parents! It really is quite funny when you think about it!”
Sarah was in the tent when the messenger told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son in due season. Sarah laughed to herself. Upon hearing this announcement she must have snickered at first. The more she thought about it the more it became impossible to stifle her laughter. Finally she must have doubled over with laughter with her belly bouncing up and down just as much as it would be months later with her son kicking within her womb.
“The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old? Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?’ At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.’” (18:13-14) When the news is too good to be true, have we not laughed to ourselves? Do you not believe that God laughs with us when we are surprised by joy?
God asks Abraham, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” The resounding answer is, “No!” While it may have ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women, there is nothing too wonderful for the Lord to do! As God gives these old first time parents the incredible joy of having a child … a son … an heir, so God will give them the energy and stamina they will need to be good parents. If God did not have such a great sense of humor how could God have overlooked Sarah’s laughter about the fulfillment of God’s marvelous promise to them? Yes, Sarah laughed and I suspect it was quite difficult for God to keep a stern face when he asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?” It’s likely that God was laughing at and with Sarah too!
We thank You, Lord that You have a great sense of humor … to laugh with us and perhaps often at us, so that we can laugh at ourselves. We also thank You for the knowledge that there is nothing too wonderful for You! In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.