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Laughter – as deep a place as tears

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By Dave Henning / August 6, 2019
[Sarah’s] laughter comes from as deep a place as tears come from, and in a way it comes from the same place.  As much as tears do, it comes out of the world where God is of all missing persons the most missed, except that it comes not as an ally of darkness, but as its adversary, not as a symptom of darkness but as its antidote.”- Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth (1977)

And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.”- Genesis 21:6 (ESV)

In Chapter 6 (“Sustaining Blessing – When Life is Hard”) of Given, Tina Boesch talks about Sarah’s response to God’s prophetic word that she would bear a son.  First, Tina observes, Sarah wasn’t an objective observer.  Because Sarah’s doubt and desire for rejuvenation butted heads in her soul.  As a result, Sarah felt the impossibility that God would bless her with a child.  The author adds:

“[Sarah’s] laughter hinted at her disillusionment.  Living in the wrenching space between promise and its fulfillment, she must have felt torn between the desire to believe and the painful erosion of hope.”

Yet, consider Frederick Buechner’s insight that laughter represents the antidote to darkness.  If, as Tina notes, Frederick’s on the mark, then Sarah’s laughter points to a sign.  A sign, Tina states, “that faith is winning the day in her internal battle with the darkness of doubt.”

Finally, like Sarah, we also face this question: Is anything too hard for the Lord (Genesis 8:14)?  Tina describes what happens if we answer yes, citing Walter Brueggemann:

“If we answer yes to the Lord’s question, saying that some things are too difficult for God, then ‘we have determined to live in a closed universe where things are stable, reliable, and hopeless.’  This is precisely the sort of world many people live in — a mechanistic world where nothing exists beyond what they can see, touch, and prove, where there is no need of faith because there can be no miracles, no divine interventions, no hope of rescue or blessing.”

Today’s question: In what way does laughter come from as deep a place as tears?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Impossibility of the blessing comes to life”

About the author

Dave Henning


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