Sarah’s Laughter and God’s Faithfulness to Keep His Promises (Genesis 18)

Written by: Suzie Lind
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“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.

“She’s inside the tent,”Abraham replied.

Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”

Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,”for she was afraid.

He said, “No, but you did laugh.”  (Genesis 18:9-15 ESV)

So many times I, like Sarah, want to lean on my own understanding and bring a promise to its perceived fulfillment by pushing it along and making things happen. All too often we allow ourselves to become cynical or bitter instead of believing God’s promises, just as Sarah did.

When God first made his promise, Look toward heaven, and number the starsso shall your offspring be, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:3) His wife Sarah still had some growing to do in her faith.  As she remained childless, she could not fix her eyes on what was unseen, but only what she saw. She would look at her well-worn hands day after day, and she laughed, thinking that God could not possibly fulfill his promises after so long.

However, God’s promises have no shelf life.

By the time she had given up, Sarah laughed in the face of God.

Rather than scold her, chastise her or take the promise from her, God measured her unbelief and spoke the truth in love.

“No, but you did laugh.” God said to Sarah. (Genesis 18:15) I love you anyway.

You are still my child.

I’m will do what I promised.

My plans are not just about you – they are about my Kingdom.

God said to Abraham and Sarah, and he says to us: I have not changed. My promises are still true. I AM WHO I AM.

Sarah had given her life to Abraham at a very young age and from the start was groomed to follow him no matter where their lives would take them. One day, he was given a command to take his wife and leave all they knew and go to an unknown place.

It is highly possible that her faith was wrapped up in his until that day, when she eavesdropped behind a tent and laughed at God’s promise. That day, laughter, doubt and truth collided, propelling her faith to a new level. This time, she heard God’s voice for herself and not through her husband. As the promised baby grew in her belly, her soul stirred up with belief in her God, the God who was still faithful, who still loved her and would give her the promised son, even as she doubted.

In our doubts, that sound like laughter or cries of desperation, God knows. He sees. He hears. He remains. He knows our doubts and fears, just as he did for Sarah, and he is still faithful, even when we are not.

What promises are you desperately trying to hold on to? Where do you need God to meet you in your doubts?

Check out an earlier post by Suzie here.