Genesis 18:1–2, 9–15
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.
They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”
Genesis 18 recounts Sarah’s reaction when God reveals that she will have a son—at an age far beyond childbearing years. She laughed.
She receives a mild reproach from God for laughing, and she denies having laughed. She says, “I did not laugh,” but God responds, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” It is a very human and somewhat humorous interchange. It was a perfectly understandable response to such outlandish news. Most translations of scripture imply that Sarah’s laughter was laughter of joy, but if that was the case, why would God have seemed to be offended?
Exploring this small mystery uncovers lessons that apply to our daily lives.
—Are we ever incredulous about the possibilities God reveals in our lives?
—Do we ever deny our own emotions for fear they might be unacceptable to God?
—Why does the Sacred often seem to be revealed after we have given up hope and at inconvenient times?