The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 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.”
And whatever the different kinds of laughter there may be, this is the most beautiful kind of all. And, God, I want to laugh like this.
Because you know what she’s laughing about, right?
She’s laughing for joy at the faithfulness of God. She’s laughing because God has indeed done what he said he would do, and we know he has because we read it three times in two verses:
- “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said”
- “the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised”
- “[it all happened] at the time of which God had spoken”
She’s laughing because the impossible has become reality. She’s laughing because faith has become sight, and now she is holding it in her arms. And what else do you do when that happens?
What else do you do when you wanted something so badly, and you asked God to do it, and you hoped that he would do it but you were never really sure until now, in this moment, when you can feel the heartbeat of your prayer, and you can look him in the face?
Sarah is laughing, see, because the invisible has become visible, and her emptiness is overcome with abundance — she can’t hold this in! — her heartache has been healed, her mourning is now mirth. Sadness is turned to singing. Gloom has changed to gladness. Pain is replaced by pleasure. Joy has won the day because God has come. God has visited her. Her boy is asleep on her chest, and for a moment this giant outhouse of a world is transformed to be heaven here and now — and so she laughs.
And she is laughing enough to make others laugh too. She laughs so hard at such a silly providence of God that she figures anybody else who hears this story is going to be laughing with her. So she says: “God has made laughter for me” and when this news spreads, my neighbors “will laugh over me.” (And maybe they will laugh with her, or maybe they will laugh at her; she doesn’t care — she’s laughing.)
She’s laughing like all the bad things have come untrue, and all the promised things have become truer than the bad things ever were. She’s laughing like all her waiting was nothing, and that for however long it might have been, it was every bit worth it now. She’s laughing like that best vision she had in her mind turned out to be a faint echo of the actual joy itself. There are no gaps left to be filled. God’s goodness is spilling over. She’s laughing because her dreams were not too big, they were too small, and because she was nearly a fool to listen to those voices who told her to move on and stop bothering God — and so she is really laughing now.
She laughing in her wrinkled skin, laughing under her white hair. She laughing as a spectacle that only the God who created the heavens and the earth could cause. She’s laughing.
And she’s still laughing. She hasn’t stopped laughing. How could she stop? God told her to name the boy, “He laughs.” That’s his name, and she says it everyday, hundreds of times a day. She whispers it and sings it, and how can she say “he laughs” without herself laughing? How can she not rock Isaac to sleep without isaacing the whole time?
“He laughs” — again, that’s his name — and who is doing the laughing in his name we’re not sure. It might be Abraham, because Abraham did laugh, or it might be Isaac himself because sometimes babies can cackle, or it might be those neighbors again who are hearing the news — or it might be God himself.
It might be God himself because he is the one who made the promise, and since God delights to show mercy, he has bound himself to take pleasure in miracles like this, and so maybe while Sarah is laughing, God is laughing too.
And maybe he’s laughing not just because Isaac is here, but maybe he’s laughing because he knows this whole thing is going to end in laughter.
And I don’t mean “this whole thing” as in just Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I’m taking about this whole thing as in the whole history of the world.
See, God knows the end from the beginning, and maybe he’s laughing right here with Sarah because he knows this laugh is only the foretaste of an even greater laughter yet to come.