She was just an old woman, laughing bitterly over a dream that had soured in the waiting.
Years of swallowing down the not yet, years of hiding tears and disappointment carved her expectations down to miniscule. Layers upon layers of hurt gone seemingly unnoticed by a God who didn’t care to see, convinced her that dreams were meant to die. But God always sees – always cares – and it is us who don’t see. Unshed tears from a lifetime obscured her eyes, and she didn’t see the All-Seeing One who never lost sight of her or her dream.
The sound of her laugh cracked harsh.
Sarah, wife of Abraham, overheard a conversation in Genesis 18. She was a wealthy woman, still reckoned to be one of the greatest beauties of the ancient world. Her dazzling loveliness was only matched by her pointed tongue – a tongue sharpened by years of loneliness and a less-than-supportive husband. Hurtful words rolled easily from her hurt-filled heart. This business luncheon she was overseeing for her husband caught her attention when the subject of her deepest vulnerability came up with the first course.
“Your wife, Sarah, will have a son,” one of the guests said. Not exactly light, polite conversation. Her heart stuck in her throat, and her laughter sounded choked.
A promise like that after a lifetime of lies, ripped her in two. “Will I now have this pleasure?” she asked. She was done with hoping. Her husband’s less-than-truthful tendencies probably had something to do with her general mistrust, and years of longing asphyxiated the dream of a son. Broken dreams mingled with broken promises that she hoarded like toxic treasures.
But God is a promise keeper.
When He promises, He delivers. It is His time, not ours…and He is not immune to our pain and disappointment in the waiting. It hurts, doesn’t it, when life feels like a waiting room? Time moved on, and so did Sarah. God lingered near, unseen.
Three chapters and a whole year passed by, but God’s promise ripened like a woman heavy with child. Like Sarah. Chapter 21 opens with the words, “The Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.” (NIV).
When all hope was discarded, God tenderly bent down and whispered to Sarah, “I remember.”
What is there in your life, what deep-seated dream lies suffocating silently under years of disappointment? God remembers, even if everyone else has all but forgotten. Waiting is hard. The tick of the clock and beat of our own hearts can drum staccato as time and life keeps. going. on. and still, STILL. just. waiting. Maybe it’s everyday faithfulness that seems to go unnoticed, maybe it’s a promise you received years ago, or maybe it’s just a dream that matters deeply to you. And you wait.
Advent…did you know that it means (wait for it)…waiting. Just 4 weeks mark the season of Advent, and we savor, anticipate the coming of Christ to earth. But what if your life feels like it’s all Advent, all just waiting, and you just want the promises of God to be fulfilled FOR YOU?
When your hope dies just a little more each day and the laughter that cracks your lips comes from a cracked heart…you are not forgotten.
Like Sarah, the wait won’t be forever. Don’t let the pain lie to you. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV) Jesus, the heartbeat of God the Father, came to settle the question of whether or not God cares. He was wounded for you, He lives to intercede for you, and there is nothing in your past, present or future that will ever change His love for you. That dream that’s been torn to pieces, trampled on, and tattered with the years of not yet…
God’s just not done yet.
Maybe what Sarah learned in all that waiting was that her heart and all her dreams were safe with God – safer than they were clutched tight in her slender fingers. Could we learn the same? Your dreams and mine…are safely and tenderly held by a God who doesn’t waste a second of suffering.
Isaac means laughter, and oh, how her laughter came full circle. Sarah cradled this child of promise in her arms, and I can only imagine how her bowed shoulders shook as tears dripped down her face in awe. In that moment, God redeemed all the pain, all the bitter years of loneliness, all the doubt she carried. Sarah mattered to God, and so do you.
Isaac was so much more than a child, he was tender proof that God cares for our hearts and the dreams they hold.
If it’s for your good, there is nothing – not a womb too old, not a woman too worn out – that can stand between God and the birthing of His best in your life. If you’re waiting, it’s for a season, and if the answer is no, then it’s for a greater yes. God didn’t wake up when Sarah was 80 and all of a sudden start to care about her deepest longing. He cared all along, during all of the bitter, hard years when Sarah vomited pain and desperation.
The best thing about Jesus is that He is God With Us, and He is never not with us, not even in our messiest corners and darkest places. Not even when you’ve let a dream drive you to desperate, crazy things like Sarah did.
Have you ever been so consumed with wanting, that you would do anything to make it happen?
Has there ever been a rift in your heart so achingly deep that you do the unspeakable? Sarah did. She wanted a son so much that she ruthlessly ruined the life of her servant girl and sent her husband to sleep with another woman. It was grief that drove her to such madness, and maybe you know a little bit about a desperation like that.
The crazy, wild thing about God is that He doesn’t discard us when we do crazy, wild things. He enters the mess willingly, always redemptive. Sarah couldn’t imagine a rescue out of the mess she made, and no one would think she deserved it.
God’s grace comes like Christmas, in the middle of bitter cold and darkness, and right in a dirty stable at tax season.
There is nothing picture perfect about any of it, and it’s not what you planned, and it’s over-the-top, undeserved grace. Even the waiting, yes, it might just be a grace to sweep you off your tired and hurting feet. Redemption is coming, and God’s heart knows all the secret longings in yours. He cradles you close, closer than Sarah holding her child of promise. Closer than Mary, holding a Messiah promised for centuries.
Dream big dreams, and then let them fly skyward, trusting the One who sees all things, remembers all things, and loves you deeply. Because, after Advent…comes Christmas. After all the waiting…comes Jesus.
So dream on, dear one. Laughter, like joy bells, is coming.