Abraham fell face-down; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Genesis 17:17
So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Genesis 18:12
The word of God came to Abraham when he was 75 calling him to leave his family with the promise that God would make Abraham “a great nation”. And after many years of traveling in Canaan and Egypt, Abraham had prospered but had no children. It is hard to be a great nation without children. Through the years God had promised that his offspring would be like the “dust of the earth” (Gen 13:16) and “the stars in the sky” (Gen 15:5). But after 10 years of following God, he and Sarah had no children.
Abraham was faithfully counting the stars and considering the dust of the earth as he waited for the promise of God to come true, but Sarah was struggling. The waiting had frustrated her and she had allowed bitterness to grow in her heart. She complained to her Abraham, “The Lord has kept me from having children.” She then took matters into her own hands by directing her husband to have a child with her servant, Hagar (Genesis 16:2). But this did not make things better. In fact, life got much worse for Sarah when Hagar had a baby. There was conflict and anger.
The years continued to pass. The bodies of Abraham and Sarah continued to age. And the promise of God for children was still unfulfilled.
Thirteen years later, God speaks to Abraham again about the promise of a child. Abraham was then 99 years old. Sarah was 89 years old. But Abraham’s faith had not wavered. His time counting the stars and the dust of the earth strengthened his faith in what God can do. But still, it would be an amazing story for a 99-year-old man to have a baby with an 89-year-old woman. Abraham began to laugh at the thought. He laughed so hard that he fell down laughing. He laughed at God’s amazing kindness and power.
God likes a good laugh as well. In fact, He decided that Abraham and Sarah should name this boy, Isaac – he laughs.
Not long after that, God was talking with Abraham again about Sarah having a baby within the year. Sarah overheard the conversation. She laughed too at the promise from God, but her laugh was not like Abraham’s laugh. The disappointment, frustration, and conflict of the last several years led her to laugh in disbelief. She is not awed by God’s kindness and power but offended by it. It is too little, too late for her to rejoice in.
Sarah’s laugh caught God’s attention. He noted the unbelief that lied behind it. Her lack of faith did not stop God’s plan from moving forward but did bring unnecessary trouble into her life and other’s lives.
Abraham and Sarah were wrestling with the same promise from God. But the way they responded to the word from God shaped their spiritual growth. Abraham allowed the waiting on the promise to deepen his faith in God’s ability. But for Sarah, the waiting created bitterness and frustration.
Prayer: Father, as I wait on your promises to come true in my life, help me to spend my waiting wisely by building my faith in your goodness and kindness. Amen.