Laughter comes in countless varieties: the polite chuckle; the belly laugh; the burst that makes your nose leak; the snicker of teenagers who think parents are dumb as rocks, the snort of parents who wonder if those teens will ever grow up.
Then there is the cynical “yeah right” guffaw in response to the impossible. Sometimes it is the laugh of the hopeless. That was Sarah’s laugh.
Then one of the Lord’s messengers said, “I will return in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” Now Sarah was old and had ceased to be in the manner of women. Sarah was listening at the tent entrance, and she laughed. – Genesis 18:10-12 (adapted)
We don’t know why Abraham and Sarah hadn’t conceived, but it was not from lack of effort or belief. Conception, at their advanced age, was even more laughable.
Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann writes: “Laughter is a biblical way of receiving a newness which cannot be explained. The newness is sheer gift—underived, unwarranted.”
That laugh of Sarah’s was not her last laugh. She did conceive and she named her child Isaac, which means, “laughter.” Can you imagine? Every time Abraham and Sarah called him in for dinner, they called, “Laughter!” Every time they scolded him, they said “Laughter, stop that!” Every time they tucked him in at night they said, “Good night, Laughter.”
Every day, several times a day, they were reminded of holy, unwarranted, inexplicable grace. I suspect it kept them grinning from son up to son down. I hope the same is true for you today. It’s not about childbearing. It’s about each “newness as sheer gift.”
Holy Giver, this day is sheer gift. Keep my heart full of gratitude for each newness that comes my way.
About the Author
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.