The funeral had concluded, and the hearse slowly and respectfully drove out of the church parking bay and onto the road. Onlookers were likely shocked to see what appeared to be family members standing on the road behind the moving hearse, hurling their fists and choice words at the remains of the dearly departed soul being transported to their final resting place.
One would think they were glad to see the back of them—that whatever grievances they’d had with this person, they were not afraid to show it publicly—bidding them good riddance!
As I stood giggling at this strange scene before me, I felt that my recently departed grandmother would have been secretly proud of her daughters hurling abuse as she left in the hearse; for it was not her that they were hurling abuse at. Seconds earlier, a car had sped down the road cutting off the hearse in its path while beeping its horn, and what appeared to be family disharmony was actually family uniting.
With all good intentions, my aunties united, standing on the road, fists in the air, to let this so-and-so know exactly how rude they were to do this in such a sombre and sad moment. Very quickly the sombre moment became a very funny scene, and it felt good to stop crying and laugh.
Stop crying and laugh
Have you ever felt that feeling when something is so ridiculous you just have to laugh? When things go from bad to worse, but it suddenly becomes funny? I know I have, and perhaps it sounds like madness, but I think both emotions of grief and humour can sometimes be very closely knit.
Abram and Sarai in the Bible knew exactly how that felt. Abram was 99 years old with no offspring and his wife, Sarai was 90 years old when God appeared to them with good news.
They were finally going to have a baby! Imagine waiting almost 100 years for the promise of a child. Sarai would have born the scorn of a barren woman for years, despite her husband’s good standing and wealth. But God had a plan beyond what is humanly possible—a plan that would bring glory to Him.
New assignments, new beginnings
In God’s perfect timing, He appeared to them, changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, and anointed them with a new assignment. The past had gone and the new was beginning. They had waited a very long time and proven steadfast in their faith, and now they were to be entrusted with the honour of being the parents of a multitude of nations that would continue for all time—a multitude that would start with one baby.
Both of them laughed. I could imagine the laughter was one of amazement, joy and incredible relief that the moment had arrived, as well as being flabbergasted at the incredulity of the logistics of such a feat. It was one of those moments where their capacity to wait had been pushed beyond what was humanly possible. Sarah was beyond her years to bear children so, despite knowing that God was fully capable and able to do this, it brought about one response—laughter!
When God announced this to Abraham, he fell on his face and laughed (Genesis chapter 17 verse 17). When Sarah heard what God had said, she also laughed.
Genesis chapter 21 verses 5-6 says:
‘Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”’
Joy will come in the morning
When God has said He will do something, He will do it. Sometimes we can feel like prisoners of hope, waiting in our promises for what feels at times like an eternity. But if God said it, then the day will certainly come. We have important work to do in the meantime and while we wait, we are to live like we’re preparing for the promise.
Zechariah chapter 9 verse 12 puts it like this: “Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”
Even if it seems impossible in human understanding, even if we have outlasted our capacity of waiting, even if we’re on the last strands of hope—God will come through because He is faithful.
And when He does, there will be joy. Where we once wept, we will laugh and be glad. When our hearts were once heavy, they will be light. And just as the appearance of my aunties yelling at my grandmother’s hearse could have been misconstrued as something else, the appearance of our circumstances, as dire as they seem, may soon turn in an instant and lead to great joy.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
We were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
Our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
And we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
Like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.’
©Rebecca Moore 2021