Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Genesis 17:17-18 (NIV)
There is an old saying, “Whoever laughs last, laughs best.”
That came to mind today as I meditated on the events of today’s chapter. Abram is ninety-nine years old. His wife is ninety. God has been promising Abram for years that he will be the father of many nations. Abram believes God, but faith isn’t always easy.
Along my journey I’ve found faith to be a struggle. It ebbs and flows like the ribbon tied on the middle of the tug-of-war rope. One moment faith seems easier and the ribbon moves my way, then doubt muscles up within me and the ribbon slips back to the other side of no-mans-land. As one man said to Jesus: “I believe…help my unbelief.”
In today’s chapter, God once again proclaims that He has made (past tense) Abram to be the father of many nations. God then changes Abram’s name (which means “exalted father”) to Abraham (which scholars believe to mean “father of many nations”). God then changes Sarai’s name to Sarah (both mean “princess” but the latter, once again, is believed to point to “many nations” or descendants). So God continues to double-down on His promise to Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham then laughs.
He laughs, because it’s been decades and Sarah is still barren.
He laughs, because he and Sarah are well beyond childbearing years.
He laughs, because having a baby so easily with Hagar after decades of failure, month-after-month, with Sarah feels like a cruel joke.
He laughs, because he’s tired of all the promises without fulfillment.
He laughs because impatience has muscled up and the ribbon on the tug-of-war rope is so far on the side of doubt, the game just might be over.
Thank you, Abraham, for being human like me.
Then God makes one more name pronouncement. The son that will be born of the promise is to be named “Isaac,” which means “he laughs.”
“You’re laughing now, Abraham, but just you wait,” God says. “He who laughs last, laughs best. Remember that every time you utter your son’s name.”
In the quiet this morning, I needed today’s chapter. The ribbon on the rope in my own internal tug-of-war has been sitting precariously in relatively the same place Abram found it in today’s chapter. Of late, when reminded of God’s promises, I’ve laughed inside.
I believe, Lord……………Help my unbelief.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.