Sarah’s Laughter and God’s Grace
Pregnant at 90? You have to have great faith and a healthy sense of humor to deal with diapers, stretch marks, and midnight feedings at such an advanced age! But Sarah, wife of Abraham, was just the woman that could handle it. After long, long years of awaiting God’s promise, a son named Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. But the miraculous birth is not the beginning of this story. The mysterious holy visit at the trees of Mamre gave Sarah the first hint of her becoming a mother-to-be.
In Genesis 21:1-7, the account of Sarah’s journey ensues. The Lord promised that He would return to them “at the appointed time next year” and Sarah would bear an heir.
“And the LORD was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him-whom Sarah bore to him-Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”
In the first verse, the Hebrew word “gracious” is padaq which signifies taking into account, numbering, looking after, calling into account. The God of the Universe visiting His child with His presence is both gracious and miraculous. Abraham was undoubtedly the biological father of Isaac, who was born out of loving physical union that took place between Abraham and his elderly wife. God’s visitation lent the supernatural power both to conceive and deliver.
Then Isaac was there, red-faced tightened into an angry knot and cord still attached, reminding Sarah that all babies are miracles. Her gray hair lay soaked with sweat while tears ran like tiny rivers through the crow’s feet around her eyes. Those aging eyes had witnessed volumes of life but never a more precious moment thsn this. Slippery. Squirming. Screaming. Son of Abraham. Child of promise.
Genesis 21:6 paints this picture: “God has brought me laughter.” Yes, with a capital “L.” Suddenly, the wait was worthwhile. If Isaac’s birth says anything at all, it surely says that nothing is too difficult for the Lord. Among thousands of other things, God can perform miracles in marriages long past their prime. He can give offspring (using doctors, physically, by adoption, spiritual children)-whatever the means-to the barren. What may be a little more unsettling is the thought that both marriage and birth miracles could happen to the same elderly couple. How does one express such great joy? Words are assigned to smaller things, after all.
From The Patriarchs, Nashville: Lifeway Press, pp. 63-65. Used by permission.