Laughter of Relief

by Lois Tverberg

Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him… Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’And she added, “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

Abraham was 75 years old when he abandoned all his security of home and family for God. It took 25 years for God to fulfill His promise to him to give him a son, and God had made many other promises that were still very far off. During that time Abraham and Sarah had wandered many miles and endured much worry and famine and even war.

The time had not been easy for either Sarah or Abraham. Sarah had probably lived a life of feeling worthless, because in her culture she had failed at the one thing that brought a woman stature. Even Abraham must have felt a great hollowness when he looked out on his vast wealth and thought that he might be handing it down to a servant when he died, and his name would die with him. Long ago he had bluntly said to God,

O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir. (Gen. 15:1-2)

Parent holding baby handFinally, God fulfilled His promise to give them a son and they named him “laughter,” Yitzhakh, Isaac. It’s a laughter of relief that is somewhat shocked and incredulous that God could finally do what He said. Their years of longing and waiting, and the miracle of having a child in their extreme old age would remind them for the rest of their lives of God’s rock-solid faithfulness.

Why did God make them wait for so many years? God chose Abraham because He knew he would “direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD.” This family was key to God’s promises to everyone on earth, and for those promises to happen, they would need to have great patience and enormous faith for generations to come. This was not because God was slow, but because God’s plan was so huge and far-reaching, it would take ages to come to pass.

The waiting that Abraham and Sarah experienced was only a tiny fraction of the waiting that would be the daily portion of many people after him. Abraham would tell his descendants his story, and they would know that God would be faithful. Through Abraham and Sarah’s long waiting, and God’s hilarious answer, we are reminded that God’s promises may be long in coming, but it is only because they are so much greater than we ever could imagine.

Photocred: fruity monkey