Yes, You Did Laugh

I feel bad not having written every day this week. I have been busy with work but that is only partly a reason and mostly an excuse. Because of being busy with work I have had to cut other things from my day. I have cut out most things except Elden Ring. Perhaps it is true then that video games rot your brain, but I don’t think so. I think Elden Ring deserves its own post but for now we need to get to Genesis chapter 18.

Chapter 18 begins with Abraham preparing a great feast once he finds out his wife is in their tent as she is going to give him a son. God decides to visit this feast and tells Sarah that she will have a son the next time he visits. Sarah disagrees as she is too old to have children. Both Sarah and Abraham are reported to be 99 in this story. The early Bible liked people to live abnormally long lives.

Sarah’s response to this is to laugh at God. God then questions her and asked if she laughed and when she denies him he tells her plainly that she did laughed and he heard her. There is no punishment at all for this. Sarah laughs at God and he doesn’t remove his blessing or say she won’t get the son that he has promised to her. The story simply moves on.

As we are still in the Easter season with Easter Day and the celebration of the resurrection tomorrow let’s think about what it means to deny God. When Jesus is arrested by the Roman soldiers his disciples flee. Judas, of course, has betrayed Jesus so he is the one that has led the soldiers to where Jesus is praying.

While Jesus prayed his disciples could not keep their eyes opened and went to sleep. Jesus three times asked them to wait and watch with him but they could not. After this Jesus is arrested and his disciples scatter and run to escape the fate that Jesus now faces alone.

Peter is seen amongst the crowd and three times he is asked if he is one of Jesus’ men and three times he denies knowing Jesus. When the cock crows for the second time and Peter realizes he has fulfilled the prophecy Jesus gave him earlier that day he runs out and weeps.

Here we see Sarah laughing at God in the presence of God. She denies God by believing him incapable of making her with child. In both Old and New Testament we see righteous and steadfast men and women deny God. The first disciples of Jesus flee from the Roman soldiers and Peter directly denies knowing Jesus. If these men and women of the Bible can deny God and suffer no punishment, even, in Peters case, go on to found the Christian Church, then are we so special that we never deny God?

That isn’t all though. After having been laughed at by Sarah God asks the other guests at the feast if he should hide what he is going to do from Abraham. God has the hankering for some wrath and Sodom and Gomorrah are his targets. God doesn’t hide this from Abraham and Abraham argues with God.

He asks God if he would kill the righteous along with the wicked giving the specific number of 50. God says if he can find 50 righteous men he will not bring his wrath. Abraham decides to keep arguing with God, because lives have value and Abraham is trying to save these people. God eventually says he will not bring his wrath if 10 righteous men can be found. Abraham leaves it there.

In this chapter God is both laughed at and argued with. When we think of communicating with God we are told to be god-fearing. To approach God with awe and supplication. To sometimes express our love but never our doubts and especially not our anger.

Turn on the news and watch the horrors unfolding in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world and tell me you don’t want to yell at God. To tell him that if he is up there he has a lot to answer for and it is time, past time, for him to get his ass down here and put an end to this nonsense.

We can rationalize it by saying the mind of God is unknowable or that every now and then God has to show us great horrors and great evil so that we understand and no longer crave things like war. That is rationalization. God is the force in our universe. Inside all living creatures. The spark of divinity that resides in us all, and at any moment God could put an end to these horrors, but he chooses not to. We have a right to be angry. We have a right to be doubtful.

If Sarah and Abraham can approach God with mocking and anger then so can we. We might call them moments of weakness, but are they? I would argue that Sarah, a 99 year old women, is perfectly in her right to be doubtful. If she was barren in her childbearing years then how can she now suddenly be fertile and about to be with child?

And Abraham. His anger comes from a place of strength. He is standing up to God. God who wants to hide what he is about to do from Abraham because he knows it is shameful and wrong. Abraham is standing up for people God doesn’t want to give a chance to stand up for themselves. It takes strength to do the right thing and to stand up to those more powerful than us. Especially when they are those that we love and respect the most, but sometimes those are the ones that need it most.

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