Lenten Devotion: Misguided Laughter

“Abraham, Sarah and the Angel,” Jan Provost

“Abraham, Sarah and the Angel,” Jan Provost

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?” God 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 God? 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 18:9-15

Sarah is amused because she is well past the age when she is able to become pregnant and bear a child. Sarah often is described as laughing at God’s ability to make such a miracle happen. Looked at from another angle, Sarah is laughing at herself and her biological abilities.

Sometimes we use humor or laughter as a way to camouflage our insecurities, fears and doubts. Laughing at ourselves sometimes is a form of self-loathing. God doesn’t like it when we denigrate ourselves. Jesus told us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. The part of that equation that often is overlooked is “as ourselves.”

Using the example of God rebuking Sarah for her laughter (after not rebuking Abraham for doing the same thing a few verses earlier), Lillian Klein looks at how the Bible treats women differently than men.

God, help me to love myself so that I may also love you and all of your children. Amen.

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