If women are increasingly postponing the age at which they give birth to their first child, none of us has anything on Sarah. She is introduced in Genesis 11:30 with the chilling words 'Now Sarai was barren...' and, in case we needed clarification, '...she had no children.' As far as the bible goes this has never been an obstacle for God - in fact it appears to be almost a qualification for women whose sons are later to assume major importance in salvation history. Is this to remind us that the initiative and the power to bring to birth is always God's?
Her long awaited son is named after her understandable reaction when told, at the age of 90, she will give birth within the year - i.e. 'you have got to be having a LAUGH.'
I take my hat off to Sarah - she is nothing if not robust. I'm not sure I would have the courage to laugh in the face of a heavenly messenger - John the Baptist's father failed to believe a similar angelic message and look what happened to him (couldn't speak for nine months.)
The conversation about Sarah's impending unlikely conception is actually quite surreal:
Divine Messenger (to Abraham) : 'I will return this time next year and Sarah will have a son.'
Sarah (eavesdropping through the tent flap): 'After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?' (wonderful euphemism for 'I'm past all that business')
Divine messenger (ears like lasers): 'Why did Sarah laugh and say 'will I really have a child?'
Sarah: (lying) 'I did not laugh'
Divine Messenger: 'Yes, you did laugh.'
You couldn't make it up if you tried.
So here's to Sarah, laughter and pleasurable surprises in old age.