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Devotional: August 27, 2021

The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. 2Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him.

6Now Sarah said, ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ 7And she said, ‘Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’

Genesis 21: 1-3, 6-7 NRSV

Babies have been much on my mind lately. In part, this is because several babies have been born to family members in the congregation, and Jeana and I are awaiting the birth of our first grandchild about two months from now. The birth of a child is a happy subject to consider, especially when there is so much pain, suffering, and just plain bad news in the world. As someone once said, “the birth of a child is a sign that God wants the world to go on….”

Abraham and his wife Sarah had long desired children, but that just didn’t seem to be in the cards. Then God made a surprising promise to Abraham in his old age: “Your wife Sarah shall conceive and bear a son.” Abraham reacted with disbelief: How could this message possibly be true?

Yet it was Sarah whose reaction is understandably memorable. She laughed! She could not, in her wildest dreams, imagine that she could bear a child at her advanced age. It was simply impossible! God must be joking. So…. Sarah laughed.

With inspiration from the Lord, when Sarah gave birth, she named her newborn son, ‘Isaac.’ What many do not realize is that the name “Isaac” sounds much like the Hebrew word for laughter. His name was God’s play on words. Any time someone would say Isaac’s name, others would hear a word that sounded like “laughter.” Sarah was not kidding when she said that “God has brought laughter to me, everyone who hears will laugh with me.”

God took Sarah’s bitter and sad tears of disappointment, and turned them into laughter. How often has the Lord held our face, wiped our tears, and helped us through difficult times? We may not end with the same kind of laughter as Sarah did, but at the moment of desperate pain, God is with us. He does hear our cries, and He will comfort us. The Lord will take you in His mighty arms, hold you, and help you find the peace to survive what seemed un-survivable.

Miracles like Sarah’s delivery of Isaac make us want to chuckle, and even laugh. They really do seem unimaginable. But the beauty of this story is that we have a loving Lord, who sees what hurts us. Sadness can one day turn back into laughter. We know that laughter is the best medicine. When the laughter does return, remember that the Lord, the great physician, was there throughout your journey.

How amazing it is that God took away Sarah’s bitter tears of disappointment, tears shed no doubt over the course of several decades, and replaced them with peals of laughter. Our God is a God of miracles, and great surprises. Let us praise Him, for laughter is a gift from God.


God of every age and stage of life,

Thank you for watching over me. You know my every hope and dream, including those I have long since abandoned. You are a God of miracles. Surprise me with Your miraculous work in my own life, and in the lives of those in my family, my community, my church, and the world. Help me to embrace whatever path you lay before me. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

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