Laughter from God
In our passage from Genesis today, Sarah says “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
You may remember the story. Abraham and Sarah are promised a son. In their old age, after years of barrenness, that promise of a son becomes a reality. It is so unbelievable, so unfathomable, both of them laugh. The laughter started a year before his sons’ birth: “Abraham fell on his face and laughed” (17:17). “Sarah laughed within herself” asserts the Sacred Text, and she later denies it before God, but God insists “you did laugh!” (18:9-15).
A lot of this is a play on words, for the Hebrew word for Isaac is Yitzchaq which means “he will laugh.” All of this to say – nothing is impossible with God. Don’t get stuck on Sarah’s laughter, which so often portrayed as an insult to God. The laughter is a theme – it is a tool to remember and tell the story – a great rabbinical trick/play on words. What is important is the outcome: the impossible becomes possible with our God.
We follow a God who brings about laughter.
With winter in full swing and many suffering from the winter doldrums, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes joy and laughter can be hard to come by. The experts tell us laughter is good for us – reduces stress, boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins. Lately I have enjoyed the numerous comedians that can now be found on YouTube, the memes on Facebook, and all the hysterical social media that is available these days, especially the Onion. If you are not familiar, check out the Onion, America’s Finest News Source. Endless hysterics. www.theonion.com
For me it is helpful to remember we follow a God who wants us to laugh – to experience the joys of life. God wants us to work hard, play hard, and laugh hard. Laugh at the impossibilities of the world. Ultimately we are a people who laugh in the face of death, for death doesn’t get the last word. We could extend this to world hunger or poverty. Oh, God wants us to work to alleviate poverty, but one way to say that is that we are a people who is called to laugh in the face of poverty, homelessness, and all the other evils of life. They do not bind us, or defeat us.
I hope right now you take a moment today when you see a funny meme and SHARE it. Find your favorite comedian on YouTube or wherever and SHARE it! Imagine if everyone who laughed turned around and made 10 people laugh. Imagine the joy this day would hold!