Laughter and Joy

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The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” – Genesis 21:1-7

Cone Flower | Missouri Botanical Garden | July 2021

There have been a few times. Few. But there have been times when the kidding and good-natured jesting at my expense approached disrespectful unkindness. Maybe you’ve felt that too. I have been known to make myself an easy target. I don’t tend toward pretension. I don’t think of myself as all that much. Sometimes when people’s opinion of themselves is too high they can be the subject of ridicule. Often it’s behind their backs. But a low profile can make you an easy target for those who make themselves feel better by putting others down. 

Sarah seems to have just the right mixture of humility and self-deprecation together with an awareness of her unique status as a 75-year-old new mother. Embarrassed? Anxious? Relieved? Excited? Self-conscious? All we know for certain is that Sarah makes the point of saying that people will now laugh with her. Who would have thought it?!? How can this be?!!? Did they really…??? That’s enough to make most people blush. 

Previously Isaac’s name has been stipulated ((Genesis 17:17-19. In Genesis 18:12-15 Sarah is confronted about her dismissive attitude toward the promise of God. Now, however, God turns a gentle rebuke into an occasion for joy. I can imagine that there was a good bit of joy in their hearts on this occasion. The laughter was certainly joyful and awe-inspired. 

When was the last time you laughed because God brought joy to your heart? It need not take bearing a child at the age of 75 to bring joy. In fact, joy is a byproduct of hope, community, and grace. When God’s grace visits us, and we enjoy that grace in the community of others who know the blessing of grace, hopes are kindled for a better tomorrow. And that brings true joy.

Perhaps we need to reclaim such joy. That’s God’s gracious gift. It’s best shared in community (“everyone who hears will laugh…”). It brings us hope for a future pure and eternal joy founded in Jesus and celebrated together with all who see God’s gracious hand at work in our lives. 

1 comment
  1. Thanks for enlightening me about God’s instructions about Isaac’s name. First time I’ve noticed order given before his birth. Recalled instructions to Joseph by God via Gabriel, about the name to be given to Jesus.

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