God did fulfill His promise to Sarah. At the age of ninety, she and Abraham welcomed their first child into the world. This time, she laughed with joy. She named the child Isaac, which actually means “laughter.”1 God had turned her hurt, pain, and doubt into the fulness of joy.
The story of Isaac’s birth begins with these words:
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. — Genesis 21:1
The Hebrew word translated as “was gracious” is a term that signifies great care and concern. It’s the same word translated as “remember” in Genesis 8:1: “But God remembered Noah.” And Exodus 2:24:
God... remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.2
God remembered Sarah, even though the promise took twenty-five years to be fulfilled, even though Sarah laughed at God’s plan, and even though she tried to make her own plan. God did not remove His grace from her. He did not go back on His promise when she doubted, or when she laughed, or when she grew impatient with all the waiting. The Lord’s faithfulness to Sarah did not depend on her faithfulness to Him. He fulfilled His promise of a son to her simply because He had promised to do so. And He is always faithful to fulfill His promises.
This is why our stories are capable of redemption. This is why our laughter can turn from cynicism to joy. This is why we can dare to put our hope in God and believe that He will come through for us. For our God is gracious with us and always does what He says that He will do.
Read Genesis 21:1–7
- The account of Isaac’s birth seems almost anticlimactic at this point. Certainly, more pages in Genesis are devoted to the promise and announcement of this birth than the actual event that takes place here. Why do you think this might be the case? According to verse 2, exactly when did Sarah become pregnant and bear a son?
- Take a moment to review Genesis 16:1–6 and Genesis 18:9–15. What is the difference between Sarah’s words and demeanor in this passage versus those passages?
- Put yourself in Sarah’s place. What gift, promise, or surprise from God has made you laugh with joy? What caused you to respond in that way?
- After all those years of waiting — all the ups and down, starts and stops, steps and missteps — Sarah to look at those around her and say, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (verse 6). What hope can you draw from Sarah’s story as it relates to your own life? Explain.
End your time in prayer. If you are still waiting on a promise from God, ask Him for the fullness of joy that Sarah experienced. If God has been gracious to you, thank Him for His faithfulness.
- Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2008), 169.
- Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2008), 205.
- Walton, et al, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic), 43.
- “A Closer Look at the Nerves in Your Feet,” PMC Foot and Ankle Clinic, https://www.pmcfootandankleclinic.com/blog/a-closer-look-at-the-nerves-in-your-feet.
Excerpted with permission from The God of How and When study guide by Kathie Lee Gifford and Rabbi Jason Sobel.
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Are you waiting on a promise from God? He’s not forgotten you! In the “fullness of time”, God will do what only He can do and you will find yourself laughing with joy. Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full