Listening at the tent flap
While her husband talked to God
She overheard the good news, that at last
She would have a child!
And she laughed.
In her remarkable poem “Sarah Laughed,” Kathleen Henderson Staudt imagines the moment when Sarah learned that she was finally to have her husband Abraham’s child, after a lifetime of being burdened with a barren womb. She learned that she was to conceive the child whom she named Isaac, which means, “He laughed.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
We can’t see it, touch it, taste it, but faith swirls through this story like an ever flowing breeze.
God and Sarah were faithful to God, and God was faithful to them:
“By faith he (Abraham) received power of procreation, even though he was too old — and Sarah herself was barren — because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.’ ”
Sometimes it is hard for us to have faith like Abraham’s and Sarah’s. The faith to leave our homeland, that which we know, and travel to a promised land that we don’t know. A friend recently shared her anxiety and distress over her family’s situation and ended up by saying she’s simply hit a wall and can’t even pray about it anymore. This coming from a very devout woman. So I said to her what we all say to each other at times: Not to worry. I’ll pray, and you just let it go with God for now.
And that’s the beauty of our faith – it is we plural who believe; somedays, we may not feel it, but we share our belief in God with billions who on the day when we our belief is shaky or absent, feel strong in their belief and can carry us along for a time. And we can keep watch for that same assurance, that same faith, and rejoice when it swirls throughout our lives, too.
An envelope from Virginia Theological Seminary arrived in the mail not long ago. I wasn’t going to open it, as I figured they were asking for money. But I was moved to open this one, and I believe it was God who guided me to go ahead and see what was inside. As I unfolded the letter, I learned that one of my seminary classmates had died very unexpectedly at age 77.
I don’t often post on Facebook, but, again, I was moved to this time. And, again, I believe it was God’s guidance that I share what I was feeling. I simply said that I had just learned of the unexpected death of a seminary classmate and was very sad – for his family, friends and for myself. Prayers, loving thoughts, sad faces instantly bloomed where those words took root. I was surrounded by love, comfort, prayers, understanding, as the list of replies grew longer and longer.
“I’m sorry about your friend.”
“Thinking of you. So sorry for your loss.”
“Sending you and (your friend’s) family love and prayers.”
From an envelope I often don’t open to a rare Facebook post, I received the love and comfort that can only come from God and other people. And my friend’s son let his faith shine through in the telling of this story about his dad’s funeral:
“Funny …. My father, even from the ‘other side’ still has amazing pull. During Dad’s memorial service, as his colleague was beginning her homily/sermon two Navy jets flew over the church (he’s a retired Navy Captain), followed closely by an ambulance with its siren going (he was an EMT for a while in his retirement).
When the service was over, I wondered how he was able to coordinate the flyover, ambulance salute, and the sermon. I guess, he’s still got it – whatever it is.
It wasn’t lost on the attendees either.”
So once again, we rejoice in the good news. The good news that we can look back through our faith history and see people like Abraham and Sarah, relish in their faith and celebrate God’s faithfulness to them. And we know that we, too, can be faithful and eagerly watch for God’s action in our lives.
And that we can stand with Sarah at the flap of the tent and laugh.