Real Joy and the Laughing Woman – Gospel in Life

Real Joy and the Laughing Woman

Tim Keller |  May 27, 2001

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  • The Bible
  • Understanding the Gospel
Genesis 18:6-15; 21:1-7
RS 129-5

Genesis 18:6–15; 21:1–7

The story of Abraham and Sarah, a senior couple who had a baby in a miraculous way, shows us that laughter and joy can change our lives. Even though they were old, God promised them a son and made it happen. This turned their disbelief into happiness, showing that God can change sadness and skepticism into genuine joy. This story shows that when God steps in, He can bring deep and lasting happiness.

1. God comes to Sarah

When God visited Sarah, it wasn’t to give her new information, but to let her meet Him personally. Just like Sarah needed to experience God firsthand, apart from what she knew through Abraham, so did John Stott need a personal experience with Jesus to really know Him. This emphasizes that having our own experiences with God is important, more than just knowing about Him or hearing about Him from others.

2. How God comes to Sarah

When God visited Sarah and Abraham in Genesis, the visit was full of contrasts, showing how He interacts with people in different ways. God responded to Sarah’s bitter reaction to the news of a baby with gentle reassurance, showing that it’s important to be honest about our doubts and weaknesses. This story tells us not to compare our spiritual paths or force our experiences on others, because God doesn’t use a one-size-fits-all approach.

3. Why God came to Sarah

Sarah laughed cynically because she had lost her sense of wonder, but God changed that into joyful amazement. As we get older, it becomes harder to find wonder, especially in a world that dismisses the unknown and reduces everything to just science and societal norms. While art and stories can bring temporary wonder, the story of grace in the Bible provides a long-lasting sense of awe, changing our lives with lasting joy and purpose.

4. How God comes to us

This theme of laughter and the life-changing power of the gospel is explored by comparing the births of Jesus and Isaac, emphasizing Jesus as the ultimate promise of a son who brings grace and wonder into our lives. Jesus is shown as the true Isaac, sacrificing everything for people. The path to becoming a Christian is shown as surprising and certain, with the gospel changing failures into thankfulness and wisdom, allowing us to laugh at the world’s expectations and show love to outsiders.



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