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.’
The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ And she said, ‘Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’
Wouldn’t we all?
It’s easy to say that we trust in God, that we believe God can do anything, that God is capable of doing whatever God chooses.
But when it comes down to it we are much more like Sarah that we might want to be. Not me. I’m too old or too young or too set in my ways or too inexperienced or too busy or too whatever. How could God possibly use me? How could God possibly think that I can be part of his plans?
Our church is full of Sarahs. We look around at our aging congregations and see decline when God looks and sees new possibilities. Or we feel ourselves less capable, our creaks and groans remind us of how things used to be.
And yet God chooses Sarah to carry and raise a child. God chose Sarah to birth a whole new nation. Even though she laughed at the very suggestion of it.
I wonder what plans God has for us, despite our laughter? I wonder what you are called to bring into being, even though we might chuckle at the thought?
who hears our giggles
but chooses us anyway,
plant in us a willingness
to say ‘yes’ to your plans for us
to be prepared to carry
the new ways you have planned for us.
Stewart Cutler is an ordinand at the Scottish Congregational and United Reformed Church College.