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Disbelieving laughter turned to joyous laughter

December 11, 2023

Daily Scripture

Genesis 17:15-19, 18:1-5, 9-15, 21:3, 6

Genesis 17
15 God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell on his face and laughed. He said to himself, Can a 100-year-old man become a father, or Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, have a child? 18 To God Abraham said, “If only you would accept Ishmael!”
19 But God said, “No, your wife Sarah will give birth to a son for you, and you will name him Isaac [or he laughs] I will set up my covenant with him and with his descendants after him as an enduring covenant.

Genesis 18
1 The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he sat at the entrance of his tent in the day’s heat. 2 He looked up and suddenly saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from his tent entrance to greet them and bowed deeply. 3 He said, “Sirs, if you would be so kind, don’t just pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought so you may wash your feet and refresh yourselves under the tree. 5 Let me offer you a little bread so you will feel stronger, and after that you may leave your servant and go on your way—since you have visited your servant.”
They responded, “Fine. Do just as you have said.”

9 They said to him, “Where’s your wife Sarah?”
And he said, “Right here in the tent.”
10 Then one of the men said, “I will definitely return to you about this time next year. Then your wife Sarah will have a son!”
Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old. Sarah was no longer menstruating. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, I’m no longer able to have children and my husband’s old.
13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for the LORD? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah lied and said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was frightened.
But he said, “No, you laughed.”

Genesis 21
3 Abraham named his son—the one Sarah bore him—Isaac.

6 Sarah said, “God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

As with creation and several other stories, Genesis kept not one but two traditional accounts of God promising Abraham and Sarah a son. Both versions of the story said Abraham and Sarah laughed, finding it outlandish that, at their age, they would have a son. Like some other stories this one included divine messengers (“angels”) and yet seemed, at times, to say God delivered the promise in person. Regardless, it was hard to believe—which made it all the better when it came true.

  • Preacher and writer Frederick Buechner wrote, “There are a couple of chapters in the book of Genesis that positively shake with [laughter]. Sarah was never going to see ninety again, and Abraham had already hit one hundred, and when the angel told them that the stork was on its way at last, they both of them almost collapsed. Abraham laughed ‘till he fell on his face’ (Genesis 17:17), and Sarah stood cackling behind the tent door so the angel wouldn’t think she was being rude as the tears streamed down her cheeks. When the baby finally came, they even called him ‘Laughter’—which is what Isaac means in Hebrew—because obviously no other name would do.” * How does this story remind us of the value of laughing with (but not at) God’s startling promises?

Lord God, you know how often doubt and fear tug at my heart. Send your message of promise and joy across my path, reminding me to trust and not to fear. Amen.

GPS Insights

Jaime Kernaghan

Jaime Kernaghan

Jaime Kernaghan is the Small Group Specialist at Resurrection Leawood. She previously worked as Praise & Worship Coordinator with Resurrection Kids. Jaime has an undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in Sociology, with a minor in Psychology, and an M.S. Degree from Friends University; she is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Jaime is passionate about her work in connecting people. Outside work she enjoys time with family, friends and her foster son, as well as her two dogs, and her cat-dog. Jaime loves yoga, reading, writing, hammocking and time at the lake.

As an Enneagram 6, I am motivated by fear. I am a questioner, and my desire is to feel secure. I like to be in control, and I believe if I am thinking about doing something, it counts as actually doing it. I doubt myself; I doubt my decisions and my choices. It is so easy to doubt and fear; to doubt the outcome, to doubt ourselves, and to fill with fear as we wait. Yet God promises us that we don’t have to fear; that He is always with us, and that His plans work together for our good. 

My biggest fear was missing the opportunity to be a mom. My four sisters are moms, and nearly all of my dearest friends are moms. I considered adoption, as well as other options. I began to doubt–my abilities, my status, the desires of my heart. Then I happened upon an information session invitation to learn more about fostering, right at this very church.

That meeting began the process of leading me to my foster son, whom I have had for nearly two years. I sometimes still doubt the outcome. I definitely daily doubt myself as a parent, and I often fear the unknown. In dealing with the foster care system, you have very little control in the process.

Still, I get to be his mom, every day–on the hard days, on the joyous days, and on the fearful days. And I am grateful. And I am joyous. And sometimes I have to laugh so I don’t cry. And yet, in God’s time, I got to be a mom. Will I be his mom forever? I don’t know, yet. But, right now, in this moment, I am his mom. And he is amazing.

May you wait when necessary and find that unbelieving laughter turns into joyous laughter. May you seek God’s timing, God’s plan. And He has one, for you, for me, and for us all. Thank goodness. 

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Frederick Buechner, Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who. HarperSanFrancisco, 1979, pp. 171-172.