I rise early and waddle out of the tent to relive myself. I don’t sleep much these days. My traitorous body refuses to let me find a comfortable position that will last through the night.
The camp is peaceful, even the goats and camels yet asleep. I take a moment on my way back to enjoy the tranquility that will soon be shattered by the cacophony of men’s murmurs, women’s chatter, children’s shouts and the demands of various animals expecting to be led out to forage for breakfast.
I breathe deeply of the chill predawn desert air, redolent with dung, smoke, and acacia, and a spasm grips my belly. I double over and clutch my abdomen. The pain passes and I slowly straighten, my back protesting.
At long last, it’s time.
The endless years of deferred hope, anguish and tears melt away in an instant. I almost dare not breathe. Before the day is over, I will gaze into the face of my newborn son.
Trepidation and exhilaration vie in my bones and I tremble.
Apprehension seizes me, like a desert jackal going for the kill. I beat off the beast, will it away. Fear enjoyed victory over me numerous times during the long barren years. I was afraid the Lord had forgotten us or changed his mind. Darkness clouded my thoughts and blinded me for so long, too long. But that time of waiting and questioning has come to an end. The light of the Holy One’s favor shines upon us. The fulfillment of his promise is nearly here.
I’ve heard the whispers around camp, stealthy conversations of awe and doubt comingled. The midwife worries that something will go wrong. She’s helped deliver countless babies but even she’s never seen anything like this before. She casts many concerned looks my way when she thinks I’m not looking.
I will have faith for her and for the child within me.
Another tremor comes as the first brilliant colors of dawn make their shy appearance, slowly dancing across the sky.
I stand again, rubbing my belly. A laugh burbles from deep within me. Not a laugh of disbelief this time, but one of exuberant praise to the Almighty for the wonderment of the absurd.
I look down at the bulge beneath my robes and speak. “Oh, my son of joy and promise, Laughter shall indeed be your name.”
Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised . . . Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
Gen. 17:17; 21:1, 6 NIV
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