Happenings around Antioch

God Laughs

If there is anyone in the universe who enjoys laughter, it is God. How do we know God enjoys laughter? Because we enjoy laughter. And we were created in the image of God. Honestly, the person who cannot laugh needs to be prayed for and delivered into holy hilarity. The Bible says laughter is organic and healthy: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” It is ok even to laugh during a sermon, if there’s something funny. Charles Spurgeon was a great preacher but also quite a character. Some of his fellow clergymen railed against his habit of introducing humor into his sermons. With a twinkle in his eye, he once replied: “If only you knew how much I hold back, you would commend me…This preacher thinks it less a crime to                                                                                                                                       cause a momentary laughter than a half-hour of                                                                                                                                               profound slumber.”

Sometimes we laugh because something totally unexpected happens, and one place we see that kind of laughter in the Bible surrounds the birth of Isaac. This famous baby was born to a 100 year-old father and his 90 year-old wife. What? That’s miraculously funny right there. When Isaac was born, his mother said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” If you read the rest of Sarah’s story, you must admit that before this baby came along, she had a tough row to hoe. I’m not so sure that 90-year-old Sarah had much to guffaw over before then, especially for the 13 years since Ishmael came along. You can read about that in the 16th chapter of Genesis. Sarah did not even titter in that chapter.

But God changed her mindset, her sense of humor, and her name. Sarai became Sarah. Both names mean princess, and ladies and girls, you cannot be a princess without a king! God, her king, says twice in Genesis 17, “I will bless her.” He also tells Abraham and Sarah three times that they will have a son. Together. Abraham laughs at that and suggests God is confused, thinking about Ishmael. God says “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.” It’s like he is saying, “Abraham and Sarah, you like to laugh? Great, that’s your son’s name. In one year, you will really be laughing as you hold him in your arms.” No name book needed. No gender reveal party necessary. Isaac, the promised son, is on the way. The name Isaac, by the way, means “laughter.”

Someone reading this may believe in a sourpuss God who sits in heaven just waiting for someone to enjoy life for a second and, God forbid, even laugh out loud. That’s when he punishes them with a lightning bolt or even worse, a re-run of “Bill Nye Saves the World.” Nope. That’s not who God is. Iain Duguid said that many people approach God as if they were interviewing him for a job position for ‘personal deity of my life.’ If the man in the sky fits the job description, being nonjudgmental and accepting, and allows us to determine what is right or wrong—he’s got the job.” Nope. Wrong again.

God laughs at that idea.