Summary: The promise of Isaac's birth to an aged Sarah and Abraham brings laughter
Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7 “True to His Word”
A few weeks ago we talked about faith. From the perspective of Hebrews 11 we learned that faith was “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. I pointed out that this is not an illogical faith—one that needs to believe the story of Jonah was a historical occurrence. Rather this is a radical faith in something we cannot prove e.g. God’s love or presence in the world today.
Today we are going to look at faith from the perspective of Abraham and Sarah and the birth of Isaac. We will discover that there are other elements to this thing called faith.
William Carey, who began the Christian missionary efforts to India in the 1790’s is credited with coining one of my favorite quotes, "EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM GOD. ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD." Abraham and Sarah certainly did this.
THE LAUGHTER OF UNBELIEF5
The Lord had appeared to Abraham and Sarah and called them to follow him to a land that he would give them. God promised the couple land, wealth and descendants—signs of God’s favor and blessing. Today’s story take place sixty or seventy years after God first appeared to them. At age ninety, Sarah is well past her natural ability to bear children. Abraham who is pushing one hundred probably is, also.
The Lord visits Abraham and Sarah on his way to cast judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham being the good host invites God and God’s two angels for a lite meal. During the meal God reaffirms his promise to Abraham and Sarah that they will bear a son. Sarah overhears the conversation and laughs. Her laughter is the laughter of unbelief. She cannot comprehend how she will ever be able to bear a son. God, however, takes great delight in making the impossible possible; in creating Easters out of Good Fridays.
One of the challenges to their faith that Abraham and Sarah faced was the need to wait. They waited years upon years for God to act. During that time their faith wavered. A one-time they thought they would help God fulfill God’s promise. Sarah gave Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, but the birth of Ishmael did not bring about God’s promise.
At various times in our lives we have been led to do great things. It might be to get a new job, move to a different community or serve in a manner that is outside of comfort zone. “We expect great things from God, as we attempt great things for God.” We find, though, that it is necessary for us to wait and sometimes to wait long periods of time before God acts. Certainly that has been our experience as a congregation. We have had to wait a long time—not as long as Abraham and Sarah—but still a long time. Now God is doing great things.
THE LAUGHTER OF FULFILLMENT
A little over nine months later, Sarah gives birth to a beautiful baby boy. The couple name their son, Isaac, which means “laughter.” As Sarah holds her son, she laughs. God has acted and Sarah laughs a laughter of celebration. Sarah’s family and friends laugh with her.