Genesis 21:1-4

The LORD dealt with Sarah as he had said…as he had promised (v. 1).

A promise kept is a valuable thing. How often have I offered a casual “I promise” and then forgotten about it? That’s the thing about carrying out a promise: it’s intentional. It requires deliberate action. Some promises are easy to keep: “I’ll pick you up at the train station.” Others take a bit more work: “For better, for worse; in sickness and health…” But one thing about any promise is this: when left unfulfilled, it always has the power to disappoint, hurt, and even crush.

God did not disappoint. God came through. When reading the backstory on this verse, we hear Abraham and Sarah’s laughter about the possibility of a son. Laughter becomes their protective cushion from the wrenching possibility of a promise made and not kept. But here it is: God kept the promise.

Abraham follows through as well. He names his son Isaac, just as God told him to do months and months earlier, when he received the news that they’d have a son. Abraham laughed. Sarah laughed. So, God—gracious, patient, miraculous God with a sense of humor—tells Abraham to name their son Isaac. Yep, name him “laughter.” 

One could write a joke here about naming our kid with the first thing that came out of our mouths when we heard the news of the pregnancy. This is not just the story of a miracle birth—and every birth is indeed a miracle. It’s a story of grace and kindness. Abraham, God tells him, you’ll have a kid and—I know, the news is so great—we’ll have a good laugh about it. 


Promises made, promises kept…and promises broken. There is seriousness in a promise. Have I made one that still needs to be fulfilled?


God, thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping your promises to us. And for the laughter you inspire. Amen.

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