The person with the bleakest view of this current world is not necessarily a curmudgeon — not inasmuch as they’re able to think about the world to come.
This is something that I must come to grips with again and again. Because, if I’m honest, I hate most of what I see pertaining to this world. From tweets to critical reflections on contemporary culture, I hate a lot of things going on here. Sometimes it’s enough to sour your stomach and make you want to throw up, or at least get up. I’ve heard of a man who, for fear of snoozing his alarm every morning, scolded himself awake by insisting that the world is full of too much darkness for him not to pray against it. Martin Luther once remarked that this world is a giant outhouse (scheisshaus), and that we should marvel that God gives us anything good here. If our blessings seem hard to count, just stop and consider the context. We live in a scheisshaus, people.
And all this is what makes the laughter of Sarah in Genesis 21 such a big deal.
This is a beautiful kind of laughter, remember. It’s the kind you can neither plan nor pretend, and whose sound is more valuable than gold, because it’s more rare.
Sarah is laughing for joy at the faithfulness of God — and I mean faithfulness in the longview. Sunrises are special everyday, and they’re full of enough wonder in themselves to cheer humble hearts, but this is more than a sunrise. This is like being told the sun will rise for 25 years, but it never does, and yet you’ve never not sat up and waited for it, and then suddenly, almost out of nowhere, you’re sick in the morning and don’t like the smell of coffee. It’s . . . it’s a baby. And then . . . then he’s here in your arms.
If we could have been there on the ground with Sarah, I’m sure we would have been laughing with her, or, at the very least, we would have heard her laugher as the kind of laughter that we wish we could get in on — the kind that if we’re unable to share says more about us than it does anything else.
And so it’s the wanting to get in on that laughter that leads us to think more about it. And it’s understanding that we will get in on that laughter that gives us hope.
It’s bad out there, I get it. It’s bad enough in here (pointing to my heart), but one day, brother and sister, we are really going to laugh. And it’s going to be a Sarah-laugh, and it actually won’t ever end.
I hope that in your darkest moments this week, or in the most chaotic ones, or when your faith feels in short supply — whichever of those comes first — I hope you hear the sound of her laughter.
She is still laughing, stretching back in the past and pointing over your head to that day yet to come.
Enter into the joy of your Master, the Master will say.
For more on laughter, check out the sermon, “He Laughs.”