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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 21:1–7         

The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (NRSV)


Maybe you already know that the name Isaac means “laughter”in Hebrew. It can also mean “to rejoice” or “rejoicing.” There is a play on these nuances of meaning in these verses which we miss in English. The point is that the birth of Isaac brought laughter and rejoicing to Sarah in her old age. Who would have ever thought that a woman so old could conceive and deliver a child? 

This story reminds me of another story—not the least bit related to birthing or pregnancy—when I found myself laughing and rejoicing at what God had done in my life. When I was in seminary, I had no idea what God had in mind for me. At that time I never thought I’d be a pastor in a church. Maybe I would be a chaplain or maybe a social worker. I didn’t know. But for the first two years of seminary, I would find myself walking down a hallway when suddenly I would just simply laugh right out loud. Why? Because it seemed ludicrous to me that I was in seminary and yet God had done it. It made me laugh. It made me think about how amazing God was.

No doubt that’s how Sarah felt with this new little baby. Who would have thought that God could work such a miracle in her life and give her “new life.” Laughter and rejoicing was the only response. 

How has God done the impossible in your life and caused you to laugh out loud at the surprise of it?

Dear God, thank you for the gifts of new life you give to us even when new life seems so impossible. Please receive our laughter as thanksgiving and praise. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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