Whether to Laugh or to Cry?

By: Steve Negley

Posted: June 22, 2015

Category: Daily Devotional

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 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.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:1-15

I have to admit that my reading of this story over the years has changed with my life situation. When I was young, I didn’t pay much attention to it at all. When Teresa and I were planning our family, any story of the announcement of the birth of a child was touching. And now that I am enjoying the lifestyle of being an “empty-nester”, I’m not sure if I would laugh along with Sarah, or if I might cry at the prospect of another child. And that is probably because my life has already been blessed with children.

This passage from Genesis is strongly connected to blessings, waiting, and promises. Abraham and Sarah were faithful people. We see that in how the story unfolds, and in their being mentioned as examples of faith throughout the Bible. And Sarah and Abraham were patient people, somewhat. They had hurried the promises of God with a handmaid and another child, but here they were back to waiting. And at least in their lives and in this story, that patience seemed to end with blessings.

I guess this story will speak to all of us differently, depending on where we are in our lives. It does set my mind on God’s promises, to all of us and to me in particular. It makes me think about the blessings that I wish for. It makes me ponder how to patiently wait.


God, guide me each day along the path that I need to take. Help me feel Your blessed presence as I journey on. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.