Abram had been renamed Abraham. Sarai had been renamed Sarah, but there was still no child in the tent when the Lord visited his chosen couple by the oaks of Mamre. As Abraham entertained the guests, as was proper in those days, one of the mysterious guests asked about Sarah. She wasn’t far away. Curiosity drew her to the entrance of the tent, where she overheard the unexpected guest’s bold announcement: He would return in a year and Sarah would have her long-awaited son.
Sarah did what any nonagenarian would do when confront with the prediction of a pregnancy. She laughed. It is not a surprise that Sarah laughed at the idea of having a child. Genesis 18:11 makes it clear that Sarah had aged beyond child-bearing years when the Lord made his visit. When her laughter (which I always imagined as a wry chuckle) subsided, she muttered, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
Imagine her shock and embarrassment at the Lord’s next words.
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.” (Genesis 18:13-14 NIV)
In response, Sarah did what anyone of any age would do. She denied laughing.
But it doesn’t work to make such a denial to the Lord. Sarah and the Lord presumably never lock eyes during the encounter, but the Lord is fully aware of Sarah’s laughter and he calls her out on it.
He called her out on her sin. In laughing at the Lord’s words, Sarah wordlessly called her Lord a liar – just like we do when we talk ourselves out of the dreams God puts into our hearts. Silently, the barrage of excuses overwhelm us when we know his calling.
“Go serve in the nursery.”
“I can’t. I’m terrible with little kids.”
“Sing in the choir.”
“No way. Other people sing better than me.”
“Give that homeless man your takeout.”
“I could barely afford it myself. I can’t give it away.”
“Quit your job and serve me.”
“What about the bills?”
Through our laughter, through our questions, through our doubt, and through our rebellion God remains faithful to his promises – just as he remained faithful to his promise to Sarah. Her unbelief did not negate the blessing of Genesis 18:10, which echoes the blessing given to Abraham, “I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her.” Within a year, God’s promise of a child would finally come to pass. Despite her doubt, God provided.
The LORD came to Sarah, as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. (Genesis 21:1)
May he do for you what he has promised …
This post is part of an ongoing series, The God of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah. All of the posts in the series can be accessed here.