Thou Shalt Laugh

Bible Book: Genesis  19 : 9-15
Subject: Mother's Day; Family; Fun; Laughter

Adam was alone in the garden. God noticed this and said "I will make you a helpmate; she will be beautiful, obedient, compliant and always pleasant and happy." "Excellent!" says Adam. God says, “Only one condition, it will cost you an arm and a leg." Adam thought about it for a moment, then asked, “What can I get for a rib?”

On this Mother’s Day, I want us to think about the power of laughter and the God we serve who makes it possible.

I. The Beginning of Laughter

You (yourself) have probably said or heard others say, “God really does have a sense of humor! That is so true! Let’s focus on the first three instances of people laughing in the Bible.

A. Abraham’s Laughter

Genesis 17:1, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” Genesis 17:15, Then God said to Abraham,

“As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings and peoples shall be from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

When was the last time you laughed like that? Abraham’s laughter is the kind of laughter you have when you hear something that seems utterly impossible! No one had ever heard of a man and woman having a child at this age! Even if God had told Abraham this even 40 years earlier, when he was 60 and Sarah was 50, having a child together still would have seemed improbable…how much more 100 and 90? It seems as if Abraham thought God was playing a good joke on Him! At this promise, Abraham actually, “fell on his face and laughed!”

B. Sarah’s Laughter

In the context of Genesis 18, Abraham and Sarah are showing generous hospitality to three guests. (Father, Son, Holy Spirit?) Together, they prepare an excellent meal for their guests of honor. Let’s pick up in Genesis 18:9,

Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” So he said, “Here, in the tent.” And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid.

And He said, “No, but you did laugh!” (Genesis 18:9-15)

Question - Why did the Lord gently rebuke Sarah when she laughed, but when Abraham laughed there is no mention of rebuke from the Lord?

Answer - Many believe that Abraham’s laughter stemmed from the shock and surprise of it all, while Sarah’s laughter came from a heart of unbelief. It could have been that Abraham’s faith was more God focused while Sarah was simply too caught up in herself.

Look at Romans 4:19-21, “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Abraham was focused on what God could do, while Sarah left God out of the equation. We do the same thing today when we focus only on what we can do and forget the truth that leave there is nothing impossible for God!

God did not let Sarah off the hook! He confronted her on doubt, asked her a convicting question, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” then graciously gave Sarah this promise, “At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Thankfully, though we may doubt God, He doesn’t give up on us! Let’s read Hebrews 11:11, “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”

C. God and the Rest of Us Laughing!

A year later and what has happened? God has visited with Sarah and Abraham and the world is rejoicing in the promised, yet miraculous birth of Isaac (name means “laughter”).

Genesis 21:1, “And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.”

Genesis 21:5-7, “Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Dr. Gary Killbourne says, “…in Isaac’s birth, it is really God and all creation that laugh. But this is not the laughter of incredulity nor of ridicule. This appears to be a laugh of joy. God rejoices in the miraculous surprise of a newborn child when that seemed to be such an impossible promise. This is the laughter of grace.” (Genesis, Journey Through the Bible, pg. 54).

II. The Benefits of Laughter

A. Laughter is Like a Great Medicine

Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”

Proverbs 15:13, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”

Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.”

If we really took seriously our responsibility to laugh and enjoy life more, our medical bills may decrease!

According to medical research here’s just a few personal benefits of laughter:

  • Your heart and lungs are stimulated
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • You breathe better and it increases your oxygen
  • Stress hormones in your body decrease
  • May help protect you from a heart attack.
  • Gives your body a good workout and burns 78 times more calories as you would standing still
  • Keeps your brain alert and helps you retain more information
B. Your Laughter Can Promote Healing

Norman Cousins, the famous editor of the Saturday Review, was told that he had a severe case of an incurable, progressive, connective tissue disease. Cousins said, “I decided that instead of sitting around and allowing the pain to take over, I would become proactive in my health care management and especially in my attitude.

One of the things I decided to do was to obtain copies of old television shows I had always enjoyed, such as Candid Camera and Marx Brothers films. I also decided to read humorous books…ten minutes of genuine belly laughter would relieve my intense pain for hours.

I used massive doses of vitamin C and a tremendous amount of laughter every day and experienced a gradual withdrawal of my symptoms and eventually regained most of my freedom of movement.” (Norman Cousins, Anatomy of An Illness).

C. Laughter Strengthens Family Ties

Plus, You Don’t Have to Be A Comedian to Make Others Laugh

While no one in our family would be considered the world’s funniest person, we did laugh a lot growing up. When it was time for me to go to bed, dad would tell me these hilarious stories about Batman and Robin. I remember sometimes just laughing myself to sleep!

My mom has a good sense of humor and enjoys making everyone laugh during parties or over the holidays. My brother-n-law, Pike is definitely the comedian of the family. Almost every timePike says something, we are cracking up!

My in-law’s, the Labella’s are notorious for their laughing, too. My father-in-law, Pete, has an infectious laugh. When Pete begins laughing, it makes everyone in the house laugh! My mother-n- law, Sue, is always laughing and smiling. One of the first times I ate with Amy’s family before we were married, Amy’s brother, Brian, started sharing some jokes. He had us laughing so hard we could barely eat!

D. Laughter is an Integral Part of the Life God has Planned for You

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.”

If we all had the choice of how to govern our lives, we’d probably leave the parts out about “dying,” “breaking down,” “mourning,” “losing,” “war,” etc…However, the old adage is true, “Without pain, there can be no gain.”

Every person and family here will experience great times and also very difficult times.

  • Our kids rebel
  • Parents divorce
  • Friends hurt us
  • Good friends or parents pass away

We will also experience incredible times, almost too good to be true times!

  • Kids Receive Christ as Savior
  • Those We Love Achieve Things We Never Did
  • God Blesses Us Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

Pastor Ray Steadman says, “All of this is God's wonderful plan for your life. The problem, of course, is that it is not our plan for our life. If we were given the right to plan our lives we would have no unpleasantness at all. But that would ruin us. God knows that people who are protected from everything almost invariably end up being impossible to live with; they are selfish, cruel, vicious, shallow, and unprincipled. God sends these things in order that we might be taught. There is a time for everything,” the Searcher says.

Joy and laughter come into our lives when we let God be God! Abraham and Sarah knew Him as “El Shaddai” – God Almighty. He is the One who sustains and strengthens us through the journeys of life!

III. The Bonding of Laughter

You have probably heard people say, “Families the pray together, stay together.” But what about families that laugh together?

Families that laugh together enjoy each other more.

Families that laugh together feel a greater sense of unity and belonging. Families that laugh together are building bridges for better relationships! Families that laugh together learn to adjust better to life’s demands

From personal experience, I can tell you that one of the things I enjoy most in life is watching Amy play silly games with our two boys and listening to them laugh! When we are laughing together as a family it’s like a slice of heaven on earth.


Laughing together as individuals and as families is nothing but positive action in an often negative world. I encourage you to take this sermon seriously and begin practicing immediately!

Here are some action steps you could begin to take this afternoon:

Spend Less Time On TV, Internet, Cell phones and more time with your family. You could even declare one night this month of May “Family Night.” Just go out and enjoy each other! Have fun as a family!

Praise and thank God for your family daily. Don’t expect your family to be perfect. If there is a joy leak in your family, ask Him what you can do to help repair it.

When you are facing situations that seem impossible, talk to your family about God. Ask each other, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).

How many times do you think Abraham and Sarah reminded themselves of the Awesome God who gave them Isaac, their child of promise? How many times do you think they simply got on their knees and just laughed with joy because of the incredible faithfulness of God in their lives? Genesis 21:5-6, “Now when Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”

On this Mother’s Day, may laughter fill each of your lives and families!