There’s laughter and there’s laughter. Not all laughter is the same. Consider the three laughs of Genesis 17:17, 18:10-15 and 21:6 & 7.
Abraham’s Laugh of Unbelief (Genesis 17:17) When God told Abraham he would have a son, he laughed. It was a laughter of disbelief. Abraham asked two rhetorical questions:
- “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?”
- “Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
To Abraham this did not seem likely and he laughed at what God said. Clearly his laugh that was contrary to faith.
Sarah’s Laugh of Unbelief (Genesis 18:10-15) Informed that she would be a mother, Sarah in effect said, “That is impossible.” She said:
- “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?” And then the Lord made a statement in the form of a question, “I anything too hard for the Lord?”
The negative context makes it clear that Sarah’s laugh was based on her assumption that she would never have a baby, since she was at the advanced age of 90.
When challenged by the Lord, she was afraid, so she did what we do – she lied.
Many times, people lie because they are afraid.
- “I did not laugh,” Sarah said.
- “Yes, you did laugh,” responded the Lord.
This rebuke by the Living God would have pierced her tender mind. What a stiff rebuke. Being corrected personally by the Almighty could have been crushing. This counter-charge by the Lord was heard by her husband and the two angels. How humiliating to be caught in an in-your-face lie.
All the above is well-known. What is maybe not so well known . . . or what may have not been tied to these two previous laughs is the third laugh.
The Laugh of Happiness (Genesis 21:6) The first part of the verse (“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter’”) could be interpreted negatively, but the second part of the verse (“. . . and everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.”) shows that even the first part of the verse was a positive. “Everyone who hears will laugh – meaning rejoice, be happy, be joyful – with me.”
Somehow Abraham and Sarah were able to escape the stigma of unbelief and transform their attitude to a positive. Failure is no final. Humiliation passes. The sun comes up the next day. Chose to benefit from rebukes and hold your head up so you can see your future. Do the next thing.
Their unbelief was left behind, it melted away before the Son of righteousness. And the point is, “Let your regret and guilt fade away before whatever degree of success God gives you. As God loves you and provides for you, repent of your sins and do not focus on them. Abraham and Sarah could have been consumed by their faith failure. They could have turned defensive. Instead, as God brought them a son, they brightened and laughed.
But you say, “God has not brought me a son (of one kind or another).” We will have some degree of grace from God. The challenge is to see what God has done for us and laugh the laughter of happiness over that. As we do that, our laughter (praise) will sustain us (Psalm 92:15). A smile adds a lot to your face value.