Summary: A sermon on humor focused on the birth of Isaac= he laughs (Outline and much material adapted from Dr. Robert Lee Hill at: http://community-christian.org/sermons/GodWantsYoutoLaugh_092610.pdf)
A wise man said, “Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gif, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them from doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.”
Humor is a natural medicine that we simply must have more of. Laughter may not cure cancer but it can surely lighten the sadness, confusion, hurt, and uncertainty that comes with cancer. Humor will probably not secure a job in a down economy. But it sure can ease the load and keep us from self pity and make our joblessness endurable so that we can count our many blessings. Humor may not be able to stop all the craziness and inhumanity in the world. But it can certainly serve as a reminder of the best and the most humane possibilities that endure in us as human beings.
Started this year talking about joy. One of the fruits of joy is holy laughter.
God wants us to laugh, in season and out of season. Does he really?
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:.... a time to weep and a time to laugh,...” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, NIV.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21, NIV.
One of the foundational stories of the OT involves laughter.
Thesis: Let’s talk about this story of Sarah and Abraham
Genesis 17:17, 19
It all started with Sarah and Abraham. In Genesis 16 and 17 we hear laughter for the first time in the Bible. In this chapter Abraham and Sarah are given new names (Abram= exalted father; Abraham= father of many and Sarai= my princess; Sarah= a princess) as the establishers of a new, free, and blessed people.
Now God has promised similar things before this to them. In Genesis 15 God promised that Abram would have a son. No son came so Sarai took matters into her own hands and gave her maidservant Hagar to Abram. Hagar conceived and gave birth to Ishmael. “Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.” Genesis 16:16, NIV.
In Genesis 17 God comes again to Abram (Abraham) and promises a son through Sarai (Sarah). Abraham thinks that Ishmael is the child of God’s promise but God tells him that the child is coming through Sarah. María del Carmen Bousada de Lara is the oldest verified mother in modern times; she was aged 66 years 358 days when she gave birth to twins on December 2006. Abraham is almost 100 and Sarah is 90.
Here God names the son Isaac= "he laughs”
The Lord comes to Abraham through 3 men or angels. Abraham shows them hospitality and Sarah is preparing a meal for them while the 4 of them talk outside of the tent. Inside the tent Sarah overhears the promise of a son through her. We find Sarah laughing about this.
Now many are hard on Sarah here. At first glance is seems that God is rebuking Sarah for her laughter. Is Sarah’s laughter because of skepticism? Is it scoffing laughter? Is hers the kind of laughter that is unnatural in a situation like hers? A honest response would say No.
Who wouldn’t have laughed in Abraham’s and Sarah’s situations? They are decades beyond picking up their first Social Security retirement checks. They’ve been on Medicare so long they can’t remember not being on it. Think of it, Medicare benefits are going to cover the cost of a brand new baby? God has got to be kidding! They’re laughing instead of crying, they’re laughing instead of going crazy.
Now God does question Sarah. Why God doesn’t question Abraham, we don’t know. God calls out Sarah and shows her a lie on her part. But notice that as God and Sarah talk, God makes no judgment, even when Sarah denies that she laughed.
God wanted Sarah to laugh if nothing else for the name of the child, Isaac.
God might be saying, “Do you see how comical, how wonderfully funny you and all the rest of my creation is to me?”
Even if there was some skepticism on Sarah’s part, we see that God fulfilled his promise. Isaac was born while Abraham was the age of 100 and Sarah the age of 90.
Has God ever made us laugh? Has God answered our prayers? God answered Sarah’s prayers. Is God’s timing perfect? Yes. And that made Sarah laugh.