Sarah’s Laugh: A Story

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Sarah’s Laugh: A Story

Genesis 18-21

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.”

Psalm 126:2-3

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Image Credit: Mary Cassatt. “Mother and Child 7”

12 thoughts on “Sarah’s Laugh: A Story

  1. Clothed in strength and dignity, you can laugh at the time to come Ashley (P31:25) I simply loved this. I love the picture it paints in my mind, the memories of my own weighty emptiness, and the Lord’s new life He gave to me. Keep those beautiful words a comin’ dear sister!

  2. In reading this appreciation in the beauty of birth, it reminds me there are many forms of birth as well as many forms of birth pains immediately before. Even in our scoffing laugh the Lord affirms conception and His glory is only magnified in our disbelief. Thank you Ashley for the reminder . We love you

    • Love that point- “even in our scoffing laugh.” How many times have we done that!? Yet He still follows through. Awesome point. Love you

  3. Love this post! A 90 year old Mom! A 25 year old promise to Abraham fulfilled through his wife past childbearing years. I can just imagine that laugh and joy as As Isaac is laid in Sarah ‘s arms. The son of “promise” had finally arrived. This infant the ancestor of the precious baby Jesus that would be born 2000 years latter. Also a miracle baby from a virgin birth. Our laughter and joy over Jesus will be heard when at last we are enfolded in his arms in Heaven. I imagine Sarah will be laughing with us as we enjoy the ultimate PROMISED one Jesus!!!

    • 25 years is a long wait! She needed a laugh after all that.
      And yet again, Jesus. The whole book is about Him, from Genesis to Revelations. Amazing.
      Your comments are food to me. Thank you

  4. Have you seen Wycliffe s theme song of old? Faith mighty faith the promise sees and looks to God alone. Laughs at impossibilities and shouts, it shall be done!
    You write beautifully. Do not stop. We all feel like laughing some days. Like Sarah’s laugh. The older we get the more we grin and wait for the happy ending.

  5. Personally I find your first paragraph the most telling, the most summarizing. Then there is the story we all know . . . but your story is buried in there too, a little too buried maybe, but you have your reasons. Still, there are lessons of the heart. All very meaningful.
    (As always, I like your choice of art too, Mary Cassett’s seventh painting of the same subject matter, a lovely pastel. I wonder if she had this same Laugh experience.)
    Hyatt (from Egypt)

  6. Our God is so good and has done so much, but we still have our doubts and lack of faith sometimes just like Sarah. Then our dear Lord shows his grace with us and still carries out his promises just like he did to Abraham and Sarah.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Thank you for the response. You are so right. God is good and yet we doubt. I’m so thankful we have the Word to show us His heart.

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