Friday, December 08, 2006

The Laughter of Faith

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
'The Lord has done great things for them.'
The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad."
--Psalm 126: 2-3

I've been thinking a lot about laughter lately - and how the way in which we laugh reflects the posture of our hearts before God.

Take the Old Testament character of Sarah, for example. Three messengers of the Lord appear to tell her and her husband Abraham that they will finally have the child God promised, even though they are "old, advanced in years." And in her tent, Sarah laughs, saying to herself, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" This is the laugh of bitterness, a laugh that defies God's promise, a laugh that refuses to trust in His goodness. It is fearful, sarcastic, guarded.

I am good at this kind of laughing, at recognizing the futility of things, laughing at hopelessness. I am good at being sarcastic. Like Sarah, I struggle to trust.

But there's hope. Because just two chapters later in Genesis, Sarah has discovered another kind of laughter. Holding her baby boy in her arms, having realized God's promised goodness in the warmth of his small body pressed against her bosom, she says, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me." This is the laughter of faith, the laughter that wells up from a deep place in the soul of she who has tasted and seen that Lord is good. In spite of years of unfulfilled desires, in spite of continued hardship and an uncertain future, she laughs, tinkling peals of joy ringing out for all to hear. It is a laugh that is certain and real. It is a laugh that worships a real and good and sovereign God.

This is the kind of laugh I want, that of the Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh "at the days to come," even days that are uncertain, even days that promise pain and hardship. But I am aware that I cannot produce this laughter on my own. Like Sarah, I need God to show up and "make laughter for me." I need God to teach me how to trust Him.


Anonymous said...

Extremely well written and theologically insightful. Thanks for clarifying for me something that has bugged me a while and that is the distinction between the laughter concerning Isaac before his birth and the laughter following. To God be all the glory.


Patrick said...

Hey Abby, it's good to see you blogging again. I like how you tied our laughter into our posture before God. Does this link to our joy as well?

And there's a third kind of laughter: no-laughter. Usually when laughter is scarce, I'm taking myself way too seriously and my joy-level in Christ is about nil. It's very close to the picture of the elder brother fretting over his father's celebration.

Anonymous said...


That's a cool post. I've got a verse for ya, Psalm 33:21. This one has been on my mind for a while as I've been thinking about how trust, hope, and joy relate, pertaining to God's presence in our lives.


steph-a-ninnie said...

Abby, wow, this is great...and so applicable to where we have been and probably will continue to live. A deep, real, certainly not easy place, but a good and honest place. I'm glad we get to go there together. I love you.


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