The name Sarah in Hebrew means ‘princess’. Her name was originally Sarai (quarrelsome) but God commanded her to change it before the baby she was carrying was born.
Sarai/Sarah’s story can be found in Genesis beginning in chapter 15, when God tells Abram that he will father to many. “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” But Sarai, had given Abram no children, and they were getting old. Sarai got frustrated and thought that God had forgotten the promise to her.
So instead of having faith in God, she decided to solve the problem herself and offered Abram her servant Hagar, this was an ancient custom “illustrated in Old Assyrian marriage contracts, the Code of Hammurapi and the Nuzi tablets to ensure the birth of a male heir.” NIV Study Bible page 31.
But that didn’t quite work out as she wanted, as the maidservant when she became pregnant despised Sarai. Sarai ill-treated Hagar and she ran away. But an Angel brought her back to Sarai, and she had a son Ishmael. Abram became a father for the first time at 86 years old.
But God when Abram was ninetynine was still insisting that Abram would be the father of many nations.
At the age of ninetynine God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. It means ‘father of many’, changing his name was to go along with the blessing, the promise that God gave to Abram. It was then that God told Abraham to change Sarai’s name to Sarah, and that He would bless her so that she would be a mother to many nations, telling Abraham that kings of people with come from her…..
Abraham fell face down and laughed. (wouldn’t you?)
Chapter 17 verse 19 ‘your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac’.
Abraham and Sarah had three visitors and they told Abraham that Sarah would have a baby by the time they returned the next year, and Sarah overheard them and laughed.. (After all she was well past child bearing years)
But when we turn to chapter 21 – we find that Sarah does in fact have a baby boy and they named him Isaac.. God kept the promise to Sarah.
What does this mean for us?
Sarah laughed in disbelief that she would ever have a child.
Sarah laughed at herself, an old woman.
Sarah laughed in surprise that the three visitors would say such an unbelievable thing.
Wouldn’t you laugh.
I often say ‘if I don’t laugh I will cry.’ Meaning the situation is confusing, frustrating, and unbelievable..
Sarah was promised a son, but she had to wait, perhaps she had to wait because she wasn’t yet ready to give birth to such a precious gift, perhaps God wanted to shape her from Sarai into Sarah. Maybe Abram wasn’t ready until God told him he was ready and changed his name. Maybe they weren’t in the right place, where God wanted them.
Sarai, had to believe God – so she had to learn faith, she had to learn patience.
And perhaps she had to learn to laugh at herself..
After all God has a great sense of humour – all you have to do is tell him your plans and he has a great laugh…
Through all difficulties – laughter is a great healer. It helps us conquer fear, and uncomfortable situations, it restores friendship, it soothes anger.
So, today we learn from Sarah – to laugh… Go on have a chuckle to yourself…