Summary: Sarah’s laughter at being promised a son in her old age.
They say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” When was the last time you had a good laugh? I’ve had a little more time to think about this question, so I’ll share my answer.
Earlier in the week we had a little evening picnic with some friends and at times laughed our heads off. I don’t even remember what the laughter was about. It was just the cumulative effect of a lot of teasing and goofiness I think that led to laughter. It was a great medicine and tonic from the stressors of life.
On Monday evening I had tennis practice with my neighborhood tennis team. There were lots of good laughs during practice as we laughed at our errant shots, laughed at the “trash-talking” that boys do at times, or laughed at inane jokes told after practice was over. The time we had was “good medicine for all of us.”
Actually I had a lot of good laughs this week. I laughed during a channel surfing session at some of the jokes of Letterman and Leno. I laughed as I surfed and found a Professional-wrestling match. I laughed at all the fake hits and laughed to myself as I wondered why anyone would pay money to see big, bad actors like these toss each other around.
Laughter is indeed the best medicine for whatever ails you. But there are different kinds of laughter. A month ago we talked about Sarah’s laughter as God repeated His promise to give her a son in old age. That laughter was a cynical, mocking laughter. We can laugh “at”, not “with” other people when they make clumsy mistakes or look strange to us. We can laugh when we get away with some mischief. We can laugh when we’ve had too much to drink or have taken a “mood-altering” drug.
Laughter is the “best medicine”, but it depends. Some kinds of laughter are better than others. “Holy laughter” is the kind of laughter I want to reflect on with you this morning.
We just read of a woman’s joy that produced that kind of laughter. Sarah had the “last laugh” after a long pilgrimage that challenged and tested her faith in God. It was ‘holy laughter.” When is the last time you experienced this kind of laughter? This morning I want to share how this “holy laughter” came to Sarah and how it can come to us. The Bible teaches us that “the joy of the Lord” is our strength. If you feel weak maybe you need God’s holy tonic, the tonic of laughter that comes from the joy that only God can give.
If you look at the outline you’ll see 4 things create the best kind of laughter. First of all, the best laughter comes when God does something “God sized” in your life.
A “God-sized” event according to Rev. Blackaby is something that only God can do. Another word for it is “miracle.” When God promised to give Abram and Sarah a son at the ripe old age of 75 and 65, it was a pretty God-sized event. But to make sure that no one could ever doubt the “God-sized” nature of this birth, God waited nearly 30 years to fulfill the promise. After years and tears of frustration and disappointment, the promised son finally came. And Sarah laughed as she had never laughed before. She experienced joy, gratitude, and God’s grace at such a deep level that her natural reaction was laughter, and it was a holy laughter.
If you’ve been here for this summer series on the life of Abraham, you know that this wasn’t typical behavior for Sarah. It’s too bad that Sarah wasted nearly 30 years of her life in fear: doubting, scheming, and laughing with cynicism at God’s promise. If her faith in God were stronger, she could have enjoyed laughter even before her prayers were answered. Until it actually happened, Sarah did not believe in miracles or God-sized events like this one.
I fear that many Christians miss out on years of joy and holy laughter because they don’t believe in miracles. They think only special people get that kind of special treatment from God. They think they’re too unworthy to be granted any God-sized gifts. Or they doubt God really has the power to “pull it off.”
I don’t fit the classic definition of a “Pentecostal” preacher, but I do believe in miracles. I don’t write off all the miracles in the Bible as “special event” for a particular time and particular people. I have a colleague who’s dying of cancer, but I know that God can heal him, and I won’t stop praying for his healing. When I hear testimonies of miraculous healings or come across Benny Hinn crusades during channel surfing, I don’t assume it’s a hoax. It may be, but that’s not for me to judge.