Laughing at the Impossible

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Genesis 21:6

Sarai, the wife of Abram, was barren (Genesis 11:30). When God told Abram to go to a land he’d show him, Sarai accompanied him. Over the years, she dutifully submitted to her husband even when he was wrong (Genesis 12 and 20). God appeared to Abram many times and promised to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. But Abram, whose name meant “exalted father,” became father to no one. Sarai remained barren.

Custom demanded that Abram marry another wife to bear him children, but he hadn’t. One day Sarai said, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2). Abram agreed.

Barrenness must have been a source of great pain for Sarai. But that pain did not compare to the pain she felt when her husband slept with another woman, Hagar, and became the father of her son.

Many more years passed. Then God changed the couple’s names to Abraham and Sarah. He also promised to bless Abraham with a son by Sarah (Genesis 17:16). Abraham responded by falling face down and laughing. “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

They both laughed. God told Abraham to name the child Isaac, which means “he laughs.” But they acted on God’s promise, believed God would miraculously touch their bodies, and he did. Did their laughter turn to faith the first time Isaac showed life in Sarah’s belly with a kick? Did they laugh as they gazed into the face of their miracle baby? Maybe all those achy, barren years were forgotten instantly.

Sometimes I laugh when God calls me to do something that seems impossible. I feel too old and worn out to produce anything of value. But God makes the impossible possible. His strength and grace enable me to go beyond my limits. Can you believe that God will do something impossible through you?


Read Matthew 1:1-16 and Revelation 19:6-16. How did God fulfill his promise that nations and kings would come from Abraham and Sarah? What promises has he made to you? Do you believe he will fulfill them?

Abraham had other children after Sarah died (Genesis 25:1-2), but what was distinct about Sarah’s son, Isaac, according to Genesis 17:18-21?

God’s promises to Abraham became more and more specific: beginning with “a land, a nation, a blessing to others.” Trace this by reading Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-7; 17:15-21; 18:1-14; 21:1-7; 22:1-18; 23:17-20; 25:7-10.

This devotion is part of a new series, Women of the Bible.

Nancy J. Baker


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