Quite amazingly there is one person in the Bible who not only laughs, but whose very name means “to laugh”.
Who is this person?
Well before I tell you, just imagine this: what would your reaction be if the Queen of England (now aged 88) announced that she was having a baby – without any disrespect for Her Majesty the Queen, it would be sensational news and perhaps the story of the year.
What about, Barbara Bush (aged 89), or Betty White (aged 93). Again without any disrespect to these wonderful women, what would your reaction be if you heard they were pregnant?
Firstly, most people wouldn’t believe it. Secondly, the gossip magazines and newspapers would go into overdrive; perhaps it would even ‘break the Internet’. Thirdly, and perhaps sadly these days, many doctors and scientists would probably point out the danger of a near 90 year old having a baby, and then recommend an abortion.
Well one nonagenarian (a 90 year old) from the Bible did actually become pregnant and gave birth to a happy healthy son. And it was not after having had any other children. It was her first. That’s right, she had her first child, a son, at 90 years old. And her response as recorded in the Bible:
“God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
She couldn’t believe that along with her 100 year old husband she had a baby boy, but as a result, decided to name the child ‘laughter’ (literally ‘he laughs’).
Who is this person? You have probably worked out already, that this is Abraham and Sarah, and the child is Isaac, (or another valid English translation of this name, and one I prefer greatly, is ‘Chuckles’).
Can you imagine the situation? Turning up for school for your first day of school with your 95 year old mother, or celebrating your 21st birthday without your 121 year old father. How would Sarah go about calling Chuckles to the dinner table, or telling Chuckles to get out of bed or teaching Chuckles’ to ride a bike (or the ancient Hebrew equivalent).
But apart from the intriguing list of questions you may or may not have about this situation, perhaps you’re wondering what actually happened to Chuckles, the person whose name means laughter?
Well during his boyhood, his father tied him up and tried to sacrifice him. He managed to survive, grew up and got married. However, his own wife Rebekah was unable to have children for many years, before she had two sons, one of whom, with her help, deceived him in later life. He then died with exactly the same name he was born with, Chuckles (and interestingly the only Patriarch of the Israelites whose name was not changed).
His life doesn’t really sound that funny, does it? So why was Chuckles born? Because God had promised it. While it may have taken 25 years for God’s promise to come true, the Lord did for Sarah and Abraham what He had promised – just as He always does.
Was it because Abraham and Sarah were perfect in their obedience to God? Not at all. Does God keep his promises on a condition that we keep ours? Not at all. God kept his promise because he was faithful to His Word. He was then and is now.
God keeps his promises and no matter who you are, whether your name means laughter or something worse, or your life up to this point has been a joke or something worse, God will keep His promises to you. Just like for Abraham and Sarah and just like for Chuckles, my new favourite Bible character.