“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’” (Genesis 21:5-6).
Abraham’s story is one of incredible faith. When we are first introduced to him as Abram in Genesis 12, God calls him to leave his father’s house and go to a land God will show him. God doesn’t give him the name of the land; He just tells him to go. And Abram does. He packs up his household and heads out, trusting in this God whom he has not known until now to bring him to a place he and his descendants will call home.
This is just the beginning of Abram’s journey. God not only promises him land; he also promises to make Abram into a great nation. This seems impossible, as Abram has no children, and he and his wife, Sarai, are both old. Abram is seventy-five when God first appears to him, and Sarai is sixty-five. They’ve resigned themselves to childlessness at this point. Yet God promises them a son, and Abram believes Him. He doesn’t understand, and he expresses his doubts several times, but he always returns to faith in God. God appears to him several times, eventually changing his and his wife’s names to Abraham and Sarah as a representation of the great things He is going to do with their descendants. He has promised to make them into a great nation, more numerous than the stars of the heavens, and that is exactly what He will do.
Twenty-five years later, God fulfills His promise. A son is born to Sarah, a son named Isaac. Isaac means “laughter,” because both Abraham and Sarah have laughed at the thought that they will have a son. God gives them the name “Isaac” to serve as a constant reminder that, though we may laugh at God’s promises, He is always faithful to fulfill them. Their laughs of disbelief are turned into laughs of joy, because God has been faithful to them. Their faith has been rewarded in the fulfillment of an impossible promise.