They were a young couple who had everything going for them—great careers, friends, leadership in the community and trips around the world. From most people’s perspective, they lived a charmed life…except the only thing they really wanted was a child. They had been praying for three years to conceive, but month after month they struggled with why they couldn’t get pregnant. They felt they had done everything right and were more than able to be great parents!
They began the many modern ways of trying to conceive. A few years later, their hopes of a child dimmed to a faint glow. They had all but given up. No more treatments, no more trying. Until one month, she thought she might have come down with the flu, only to discover she was pregnant! This promised child they learned would be a son and they gave him the only fitting name they could imagine—Isaac!
The story of Abraham and Sarah had been their story, and with the coming of their son, they felt Isaac was fitting. Isaac means “laughter.” It is the response of Sarah on learning she is pregnant, and undoubtedly must have been the response as he is born—holy laughter of an inward joy! Isaac was the promise realized. He was the son given to a barren woman and an old man. He was the joy of the womb given to the world.
And he was the gift that Abraham knew would ensure the promise of God—he would be the father of multitudes! Until God invites him to give him up. Overall, Abraham had been a model of faithfulness—he left home, traveled into the unknown, believed God and basked in the promise realized. Yet God tests his faith by asking him to give up what was most important—his son. Some say this is the precursor of the story of Jesus’ life and death. Others say God is cruel to ask a man to sacrifice his son. Still others would say these scriptures are inhumane. I would say that Abraham’s faith shined, for he trusted that God would show up in a way he hadn’t yet known or realized. Why? Because it had happened over and over again! Genesis 22 is a profound story that should boil our souls. It should pull us deeper into questions about God, about faith, about Abraham’s state of being. And when we are finished reading it, we see the profound trust that Abraham had in his God and the promises granted!