Friday, December 3, 2010


As I stared down at the child cradled in Sarah's arms, something deep within me stirred. For so long, fear had made its home beneath the soil of my heart. Fear that I had left my home in vain. Fear that I would fail to provide my wife with the one thing she most desired. Fear that I had misinterpreted God's promise. Fear that I had sinned too greatly and lost the Lord's favor.

I watched as my wife wiped a gray tendril of hair from her glistening forehead. My insides quaked. Something was threatening to unearth my fears. It bubbled in my belly, shook my chest, and tickled my throat until it erupted out of my mouth. There was a cavern deeper than my fears that I had not known existed, and out of it, sprung laughter.

Sarah turned and held out the child toward me. "Do not be afraid, Abram." The words came to me as from some distant dream. "I am your shield, your very great reward."

I extended my arms to receive the child and caught a glimpse of my own wrinkly hands. With these hands, I had awoken Sarah from her sleep. I took her hand, so small in my own, opened the tent flap, and led her into the night. The moonlight sparkled on her face. Such beauty!

"Look up, Sarah. See those stars? Try to count them."

She giggled, "Oh Abram, that's impossible!"

"Maybe, but God says that our family will one day be like those stars."

She placed a hand over her barren womb and tears filled her eyes, "Oh Abram, what if it was true?"

We spent the rest of the night lying on our backs and naming the stars.

Time passed. My beard turned white, Sarah's shoulders began to hunch, and hope fled. These were the days of desperation and despair. My servant, Hagar bore a child, but he was not the promised one. Sarah seethed in jealous anger. We sent Hagar and the child away and continued to wait. My hands had been wrung, clenched, and shaken at the heavens. How long, O Lord!

Now, these hands that had been empty for so long held a baby. I pulled my son close and his eyes met my own. They were his mother's, sparkling jewels. He reached up, grabbed my beard, and gave it a royal tug. "Yow!" Sarah howled with laughter.

It was a laugh very different from a year ago, when three visitors came. We offered them food and I dined with them outside the tent. In between bites, one of them spoke, "Next year at this time I will return, and your wife Sarah will have a son." As soon as the words left his mouth, there was the sound of laughter from inside the tent. Sarah had been listening and the laughter snuck out of her before she had time to muffle it.

"Why did Sarah laugh?" the visitor asked, motioning toward the tent.

Sarah poked her head out, "I didn't laugh."

A smile spread across the visitor's face. He reached up and turned Sarah towards him. "Yes, you did laugh." He let out a little chuckle of his own saying, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

I returned the child to his mother. "I've thought of the perfect name for our son. Let's call him Laughter, for surely he will bring laughter to the whole world."

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