Summary: Abraham laughed in the cynicism of old age; Sarah laughed in the denial that defends against what is inevitable; but beyond both of them God laughed in joy at the triumph of His purposes, fulfilled in two aged followers.
You have heard it said, “He who laughs last, laughs best.” Let me expand on that: I may laugh, you may laugh, but God will have the last and best laugh, for God’s purposes will be served.
Laughter. There are all sorts of reasons to laugh. Some will laugh out of frustration; unable to do what they want to do, theirs will be a cynical laughter. But God will laugh last and best, for God’s purposes will be served.
Others will laugh in denial; unwilling to face what is happening, unable to see positives, theirs will be a sarcastic, hopeless laughter. But God will laugh last and best, for God’s purposes will be served.
One of the signs of health in senior adults is the ability to laugh. You have to be able to laugh at thinning hair, rotting teeth, bulging waistlines, and falling arches, or else you will go crazy. And that doesn’t even count things like .. uh, mm, ah, what do you call it, can’t get the word out .. oh, things like memory loss! Without a sense of humor, no one is going to make it through the aging process. I don’t know about you, but as for me, even though – let the record show – even though I am not yet an official senior adult, I can no longer leap tall buildings with a single bound. I can no longer read the fine print in a salesman’s contract from across a crowded room. I can no longer dazzle lovely ladies with my movie-star looks. And the fact that I could not do those things at age 22 any better than I can at age 62 does not erase the reality – that aging takes things away from us. Laughter is our survival tool. Laughing at how ridiculous we look as we age is one way to survive aging.
Why, you know, you have to be able to laugh at things in order to stick around for a lot of years. Take marriage, for example. Or, as the old comedian Henny Youngman used to say, “Take my wife – please!”. People who have been married for forty and fifty years tell me that they have gone through all kinds of scrapes and scrambles. They report that it is not easy to live with the same person, day after day, month after interminable month, unless you can laugh at some of the stuff that happens in married life! How else are you going to deal with arguments over who burned the toast? How else will you manage the ever-lengthening honey-do list during the height of the football season? You will have to learn to laugh if you are going to deal with marriage over many years.
Now you must understand that Margaret and I have only been married 39 years, and so our first fight has not yet come. We haven’t gotten past the honeymoon stage, so we might have an argument in the next ten or twenty years. I’m looking forward to some good laughs out of that. Hmm. From what I am looking at now, the honeymoon might be over this afternoon!
I have a story to tell you today about two senior adults who did some laughing. I guess their laughter helped them with their burdens. But just remember, there are many reasons to laugh. I may laugh, you may laugh, but God will have the last and best laugh, for God’s purposes will be served. Some will laugh out of frustration; unable to do what they want to do, theirs will be a cynical laughter. Others will laugh in denial; unwilling to face what is happening, unable to see positives, theirs will be a sarcastic, hopeless laughter. But God will laugh last and best, for God’s purposes will be served.
When God told Abraham, who was already in his 90’s, that his equally elderly wife Sarah would give birth to a child, Abraham laughed. He laughed in frustration, because he had wanted for so long to fulfill his destiny. But it seemed obvious that he was not going to do so. And so cynicism welled up in Abraham’s heart, and he laughed.
God said to Abraham, "As for … Sarah … I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. …" Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, "Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" … God said, "No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.
Some of us laugh out of frustration. A few years ago, on the “Saturday Night Live” show, there was an ongoing feature called “The Whiners”. The Whiners were a family for whom nothing went right, everything went wrong. They dealt with it by constant whining – not just complaint, but literally a grating, ear-splitting whine. “Mom, I didn’t want prunes for dinner.” “But I didn’t have anything else, your father didn’t bring home any money.” “I didn’t bring home any money because you took too much time in the bathroom and made me late for work.” “I took so much time in the bathroom because all we ever eat is prunes.” Round and round they would go, whining about life’s frustrations. Cynical laughter, complaint, frustration, it’s all the same. We get stuck in believing that nothing is going to change, that nothing can be done, that nothing will happen. Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, “Can a child be born … to Sarah, who is ninety years old …?” Well, ha, ha, ha to that!