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When God Makes You Laugh

Imagine that you’re a 75-year old man. If you’re a woman, you might have to stretch your imagination muscle a bit. You’re 75, and your wife is 65. Your whole life you’ve been trying to conceive, but it just won’t happen. Now, imagine that at this age God appears to you and gives you a few promises; some of them you understand, some of them not quite. The part you understand is that your offspring will be numerous. In practical terms this means that you will have a child who will then procreate and produce more offspring. The part you don’t understand is that somehow, through your offspring, the whole earth will be blessed.

The first time you hear this you think: ‘Ok, everything is possible with God; I believe that at some point I will have a child, even at this old-ish age.’ Throughout the next 24 years God appears to you a few more times, each time repeating the promise; many things happen in those years…but your wife’s belly still isn’t growing – at least not from being pregnant. At this point you’re 99 and your wife is 89.

And it is at this point in his life that God appears to Abraham again, and this time the promise is a bit more specific. God tells him that he shall have a child with Sarah – his wife. Most of the time when God would appear before people, they would fall on their face and be struck with awe, amazement, and sometimes terror – most people would become speechless. Abraham fell on his face…and laughed! I mean, who wouldn’t? He was almost 100 years old, and Sarah’s hips were probably in need of replacement; they were in no shape to bear a child, not to mention her reproductive system which was way past the ‘best before’ date.

God responds by affirming that Sarah will bear a son, and that they should name him Isaac which means ‘he laughs’. Sure enough, after a year, Sarah gave birth to Isaac and said: ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me’. Every time they would hear the name of their son, both Abraham and Sarah – who looked more like grandparents than parents – could laugh together in their old age as they remembered how God can sometimes fulfil His promises in His own funny way. (Gen. 12-21)
There are three points that jump out at me from this story:

1.    God has a sense of humour – He gives children to unlikely couples, He brings out great people from barren women, and He makes the most curious choices when choosing people to use for His purpose (He chooses a bad speaker to go in front of a Pharaoh and to be a leader of a huge nation, chooses a Jewish terrorist to become His no.1 gentile evangeliser, saves a whole nation through a foreign prostitute, etc.). He does all this not just to make a story more interesting, but because He (and most of the time ONLY He) knows what He’s doing.

2.    When God says something, He’s serious about it – our God is ‘the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8), and when He says something, He means it. This should be a word of both encouragement and caution. Have faith in His promises and take His word seriously.

3.    ‘Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord’ (Psalm 27:14) – if you think you’ve waited long enough, if you think God is acting slowly – your financial situation is not getting any better, you’re still single, the health of you or your loved one is not improving – remember Abraham! He had a promise from God repeated more than once and still waited for its fulfilment for 25 years. God knows when, why, and how; and above all, God cares!