Sometimes our overflowing joy shows itself in laughter. But sometimes laughter is a tell-tale clue to unbelief.
The human race has the remarkable ability to laugh. As Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” The Mayo Clinic highlights their article on the benefits of laughter with the title, “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.” While laughing is most commonly associated with superficial mirth or overwhelming joy, it can also be associated with other emotions: relief, embarrassment, surprise, confusion, or even unbelief. In our lesson today, both Abraham and Sarah laugh, but express very different reactions to the same statement from the Lord. When Abraham heard God promise that his wife would not only be “a mother of nations” but would also have a line of kings in her future, we read, “Abraham fell on his face and laughed” (Gen 17:17). It may be he was actually looking down that line of kings to the Messiah Himself, for Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (Jn 8:56). Was there any doubt in his laughter? The Bible commentary states, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom 4:20). But with Sarah in the next chapter, it was something different. Overhearing the conversation from her tent, “Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’” (Gen 18:12). We know that doubt had crept in, because the Lord responded, “Why did Sarah laugh?…Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (vv 13-14). No, nothing is too hard for Him, and thankfully Hebrews 11:11 records, “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” Yes, faith always wins!