He Who Has the Last Laugh
by Joseph Franks
Yes, I know the Bible tells me that without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Heb.11:6)
Yes, I know the Bible tells me faith is a gift of God, and the only reason I can repent and believe is because he has given me this supernatural gift. (Eph. 2:8)
Yes, I know the Bible tells me faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and that I am to walk in accordance with him. (Gal. 5:22)
Yes, I know the Bible tells me that faith is expected of praying elders. When men pray and doubt not, such prayers are powerful and effective. (James 5:15)
Yes, I know the Bible shows a Lord who expects faith from his disciples. Quite often, he rebukes his dearest friends for their faltering faith. (Matt. 8:26)
However, despite knowing and preaching such, I am not a consistent man of faith. Like Peter, I jump into the water. Like Peter, I turn my eyes off of Jesus and become consumed with fear.
Let me tell you something else, most of my Christian friends are not consistent men and women of faith. This includes the majority of my fellow elders who long to be devoted to the Word and prayer.
And here is one more thing I am learning — the majority of my biblical heroes, they are not consistent either. Almost all of my spiritual patriarchs and matriarchs struggle with faithfulness. Allow me to give you an example from the early chapters of Genesis.
When Abraham was old and Sarah was barren, God promised a nation of descendants would come forth from their loins. These senior saints would have a son. How did they respond? At first Abraham believed God. However, as time passed, the response of Abraham changed. Consider his sad response:
And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of people shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (Genesis 17:15-17)
Abraham heard God’s promise of a son, and this time he fell on his face, laughed in God’s face, and began to renegotiate with God regarding a “Plan C – Eliezer.”
Later, Sarah followed Abraham’s lead and responded in like manner: The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old? Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:10-15)
There it is. Both Abraham and Sarah have had faith. Both have left the land of comfort and traveled throughout the land of Canaan. Both have turned their backs on idols and worshiped about God’s sacred altars. However, both of them have questioned God’s protection before Pharaoh and Abimelech. Both have sought to bring about God’s promise through “Plan B – Hagar.” And now, both are laughing at God’s revelation regarding a son coming through their marital union.
But here is the good news for today — our faithlessness has nothing to do with God’s faithfulness. You see, if God’s promises were based on a contract, then his performance would be based upon our performance. However, because God’s good promises are based on grace and not works, his promises are based on his love, mercy, and immutable character. Consequently, even when Abraham and Sarah lack faith, God is faithful:
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 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.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-7)
In the end, God granted Abraham and Sarah more faith. Consequently, as senior saints they engaged one more time in marital intercourse, and through their intimate act of faith, God provided them Isaac. Yes, in the end, Abraham laughed, Sarah laughed, their friends laughed, and God had the last laugh.
Struggling friends, when God gives his word, he always comes through. Sure, he works at his own pace, and he is often oh so slow. However, he is the Truth, and he never lies. All that he promises is sure to come to pass. It is sad and sinful how we disbelieve him. Far too often, we are guilty of laughing behind his back or before his face. However, know this about your Heavenly Father — your faithlessness has nothing to do with his faithfulness. Therefore, be reminded of his love and power. Be reminded of his commitment to his word. Repent of your faithlessness and do the next right thing. Believe that which he has spoken and continue to obey. I am not promising you will have renewed vigor as you had when you were twenty-five. I am not promising you will have your barren womb restored. I am not promising you will have a child in your old age. But I am promising that God will keep his promises, and I am promising you will laugh with God in the end.