The AMI QT Devotionals from November 20-26 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland. Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles). He is married to Christina.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Genesis 21.3, 6-7 (ESV)
Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.
6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
If you have spent some time browsing through YouTube, there’s a good chance that you have come across some of these videos: They capture the moments when an enlisted member of a family (a dad, a mom, a sibling, etc.) comes back from war or training, surprising their family on a special occasion. And my guess is that for many of us, watching these sweet moments of reunion, our hearts are full of joy, which often leaks out of our eyes in the form of tears.
The human experience of crying is odd. Oftentimes, tears represent sorrow, pain, loss, while other times, tears are a sign of overwhelming joy and happiness. In today’s passage, we see another reaction that represents these extremes. If you remember back in Genesis 18, we see Abraham and Sarah encounter three men who foretell that Sarah will have a son next year, at the age of 90. Hearing this news, Sarah laughs to herself. The nature of Sarah’s laugh has been somewhat debated by many theologians, but many agree that this laugh was an incredulous response, almost a mocking tone of disbelief.
Now in Genesis 21, we see that Sarah is again laughing. In fact, Isaac’s name is derived from the word laughter. But this time, her laughter comes from a very different place. While there is still a sense of awe and disbelief, Sarah’s laughter is now one of incredible joy and amazement at how God had done the impossible. And here we see a central theme that surrounds God’s work.
God is a God who is able to turn our sorrows into rejoicing. Not only is He able, but He is willing. For those who trust in Him, they will experience this kind of transformation. Hearts are changed. Perspectives are shifted. Desires are redirected. What is good to our eyes changes from what is fleshly to what is spiritual—this is possible in God. As you reflect upon God’s ability to change your laughter of unbelief to laughter of joy, may you be reminded of God’s incredible love toward you.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You are our heavenly Father who loves to give what is good to His children. Thank You that Your intent is always for good and not for evil. God, You are a God of the impossible—all things are possible in You, even changing of calloused hearts. May I be reminded of that power that can change even the darkest corners of my heart. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 21
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 30:1-4, 11-12 (ESV): I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. 4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. . . .11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever
Questions to Consider
- What reasons does David give in the Psalm for his exaltation of God? Are there parts of David’s life that would testify of this kind of God?
- Focus on verses 11-12. What can you learn from the contrasting emotions and experience the psalmist feels when God’s deliverance comes?
- How does your understanding of question 2 change your understanding of the manner in which we are called to live our lives?
- You can see that David has experienced deliverance from his enemies (Saul, Absalom), from living as a nomad in fear of his life (1 Sam 27, 2 Sam 15), the struggle of being anointed king yet the fulfillment of that seeming so distant, etc.
- The contrast is from mourning to dancing. Sometimes, all we ask is from mourning to peace, but God gives so much more than that. He not only removes our sackcloth of mourning, but He clothes us with gladness. He is indeed a God who can do far greater than what we can imagine or think.
- As God is a God who turns mourning into not just peace but dancing, the posture in which we are called to live our lives is found in verse 12: not be silent; sing your praise to Him. Not just peace, not just comfort—we are to take our dancing and turn it into rejoicing to His glory.
Charles Spurgeon on Psalm 30: “Observe the contrast, God takes away the mourning of his people; and what does he give them instead of it? Quiet and peace? Aye, and a great deal more than that… Glory be to thee, O God, if, by a sense of full forgiveness and present justification, thou hast enriched my spiritual nature and filled me with all the fullness of God.”
As you have spent the day reflecting on a God who takes us from doubt and mourning to faith and rejoicing, in what areas of your life do you need this truth to be spoken to? Spend some time this evening reminding yourself of the God who is able to turn your mourning into dancing. And respond in appropriate worship to Him.