Today’s Scripture: Genesis 18:1-15
Evolutionary scientists and psychologists have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why we laugh. One of the theories is that we laugh as a reaction to the absurd, to that which is incongruous. This story of Sarah laughing certainly fits that theory. Abraham and Sarah are already very old when these strange guests arrive at their home and announce to Abraham that Sarah will become pregnant. I can just imagine Sarah, eavesdropping nearby, laughing and rolling her eyes. Who can blame her? It’s a ridiculous claim, totally unexpected and absurd. Her laughter is her way of rejecting the impossible. It’s her way of coping and not getting her hopes up.
Interpreters of this story have often read the strangers’ response – “Why did Sarah laugh?” – with a tone of judgment or at least frustration, but I’m not convinced by that. Surely God knew Sarah’s pain and desire for a child well enough to imagine this response from her. Instead, I imagine God asking, with twinkling eyes, “Is anything too wonderful for me?”
When Sarah finally gives birth to the baby, she names him Isaac, which means “He laughs.” You can almost hear her continued surprise and joy, as she proclaims, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me!”
When is the last time that God has surprised you, in either a small way or a big way? What was your reaction?
“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” –Jean Houston