Sarah’s Laugh: A Story
I have laughed out of lack and out of abundance. I have been both holy and unholy, a liar and a believer. Now, looking back, I know the difference between a laugh that is empty and one that is full.
“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
Then the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son…”
Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.
So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
When I heard them speak outside my tent it was an answer to an old prayer and laughter swelled from the pain of years that were barren with dreams not met. That laugh came quickly, as quickly as arms thrown up in defense of the body. For years I had walked around these tents like a hollowed-out spoon, thinking my worth lied in my own ability to produce, to make good on something that seemed out of my control. When I would see my desire lived out as other women’s children, I would laugh to myself to lighten the heaviness of it.
I heard His voice echo the truth I had longed for in the middle of the night, every night, year after year, and the unknown potential in it made its way to my throat in that laugh I knew so well, the one when translated said “if only.” It seemed too good to be true and I rejected it with breathy haste as I’m prone to do.
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him….Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
Months later my stomach swelled and hope filled the place where disappointment once lived. I felt a new love spring to life within me. What was once empty became big and round and I replaced my prayers of desperation with prayers of thanksgiving.
The newness of it created an awe which held gave birth to joy, a joy born outside of my own abilities. When I see the hand of God rocked gently in my aging arms I laugh at the ease of our Lord. How simple it is for Him to change a life, to add breath where there was none before. I laugh now from a new place. It comes from my heart, leaves my mouth, and echoes all around this village. When others hear it they laugh, too. They laugh with eager expectation at the fullness of our God.
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.”
Image Credit: Mary Cassatt. “Mother and Child 7”