Sarah of the Bible: When God Makes You Laugh

An example of what can happen when we open ourselves up to God's presence. 

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Posted in , Jan 28, 2020

Reading about Sarah of the Bible

Remember Sarah’s reaction when the three men—God’s messengers—appeared at Abraham’s tent and said that he and Sarah would have a child within a year? She laughed. How was it possible? She was way too old. “Me, give birth? At my age?”

Then she was afraid for having laughed. Even pretended she hadn’t laughed. Lied about it, tried to squirrel out of it. What, me laugh?

What I love about Sarah and so many of the characters of the Bible is she is so real. So like us. God gives us a promise that seems impossible. Wouldn’t the first reaction be to laugh? And then to be afraid. 

I think Sarah is an example of what happens when God enters our lives, and we’re open to it. Things are never the same. 

First of all, she had to change her name, a sign of her changed identity. She was Sarai. Her husband had been Abram. They become Sarah and Abraham. We are all called something. Then we hear God’s call and our whole identity changes.

We know a bit about her sense of shame. Remember what happened to her earlier. She faced the humiliation, especially humiliating in those times, of not being able to have a child. She offered up her servant Hagar to sleep with her husband and Hagar became pregnant.

That made Sarai—as she was then called—feel even worse. So she banished Hagar into the wilderness. Hagar only returns when God’s messenger intervenes and tells her that she’s just going to have to put up with Sarai for a while. He has His promise for her, too. She’ll bear a son named Ishmael, a name that means “God hears.”

God hears us all.  

We know the end of the story. The aged Sarah becomes miraculously pregnant. God’s promise is fulfilled. She and Abraham have a son. The child’s name is Isaac.

Remember what that name means—sometimes this gets a little lost in translation. Isaac in Hebrew means “He laughs” or just “laughter.” This is my favorite part of Sarah’s story. Answered prayers can bring endless delight and laughter. Fulfilled promises are a source of joy.

Even after a journey of shame, humiliation, fear and disbelief. Sarah found that out. By God’s grace, laughter—and Laughter—was born.

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