So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my Lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” – Gen. 18:12 NIV
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To laugh is to make spontaneous sounds with facial and body movements that are the instinctive expressions of lively amusement and sometimes also of derision. The definition informs clearly that laughter can be the consequence of a joyful event or that resulting from the intention to mock or ridicule someone. When individuals laugh, one always hopes that it is the result of an occurrence that has brought great joy but it can also be the reaction to an event that is negatively overwhelming.
Three angels had just confirmed what the Almighty God had earlier told Abraham with the additional information to him that the fulfillment will be within the coming 12 months. This was after they had been hosted to a sumptuous meal by Abraham and his wife and so they both must have concluded that the angels were reacting to their being well hosted. Even though God had said same to Abraham earlier, with him laughing it off on that occasion, his reaction this time around indicated that his skeptism about the promise being fulfilled still remained despite the assurance given by the Lord on that occasion – Gen. 17:16-21. What a huge joke, they both must have both thought. This was a request that they both had been making to the Almighty God for almost 75 years of marriage and it was not granted. Although Abraham did not laugh on this occasion, it was the turn of Sarah to laugh in derision, an action that the angels queried but which she quickly denied out of fear, even though the angels insisted that she laughed – Gen. 18:12-15.
During these events surrounding the announcement of the intention of the Almighty God to fulfil long standing request of Abraham and his wife, the two forms of laughter that human beings can display were revealed. The first form of laughter was that by Abraham when God informed him of His intention to give him a son through Sarah. Some Christians have waited for so long such that, just like Abraham, they have written themselves off regarding their request. It does not stop them from worshipping God but the possibility of that long standing request being granted has been written off. Such Christians laugh, when they are told of the intention of God to do what they have concluded is impossible, not at the sender of the message or at the messenger, but at themselves. This they do because they see only their own failing ability and not the immense capability of the sender of the message. This in some cases can actually be the reason why the promise will never be fulfilled as they no longer have faith in the ability of God to do it, not because he has in any way told them he will not do it but because they wrote themselves off and stopped expecting it – Jms. 1:5-8. Some Christians are however lucky because the expectation of the desire has gone beyond request to the level of promise by the Almighty God. In this situation, it is no longer about the faith of such Christian but the credibility of God. This may also occasionally attract the penalty of unbelief like the case of deafness and dumbness of Zechariah before the birth of John the Baptist, but in such situations, God remains faithful to His Words as He will not deny Himself – Lk. 1:13-22.
There is also the laughter that the Christian laughs similar to that of Sarah – Gen. 18:12. In such circumstances, it is similar to the laughter of Abraham earlier discussed, but with a bit of mockery of the messenger. The messenger is either seen as speaking from the position of ignorance or an attempt to deceive based on a received favour. It is more like a “thank you, we have heard you” kind of situation where the message is seen as the attempt by the messenger to appreciate the good gesture that he/she has just received. The messenger feels ridiculed but can really do nothing about it because all he/she is delivering is what he/she was sent and does not have any control over its manifestation. He/she will be lucky to receive any apology when the message is eventually fulfilled. Many Christians are in that situation today but remain very devoted to their worship of the most high believing that whatever they have not received from the Lord after a long period of waiting can no longer be received. They believe that such messages about the willingness of the Lord to grant this long term desire is a cheap attempt to curry their favour due to the advantage that they are in a position to dispense. They will always deny such thoughts like Sarah did but it does not mean that they are right. May such laughter not be your portion in Jesus name. Amen.
Sarah, however eventually laughed the true laughter. Unlike the other types of laughter, it cannot be carried out alone as people always join the individual in the laughter. It is not based on promise made or promise revealed but on promise fulfilled. When all that the Lord had said was fulfilled, the Bible records that Sarah not only laughed but many who heard laughed with her – Gen. 21:6. Worthy of note about this laughter is that it is not the individual that decides to laugh but the Almighty God makes the person laugh. He fills the mouth of the individual with laughter and such is left with no choice than to express the wish of the Lord publicly – 1Sam. 2:1-2. Such is the filling by the Lord that it is enough to make people have enough to express.
However this type of laughter comes with patience, perseverance and maintenance of absolute trust in the Lord. Christians need to avoid any other form of laughter as it is a clear indication of lack of belief which will always be an obstacle to receiving or fulfilment of the promises of the Lord. May God fill us all with his laughter in Jesus name. Amen.