Solomon, the wisest man who lived, said laughter is good. Just as good as medicine! Tell that to the 1150 billion dollar pharmaceutical industry! Perhaps with a little more chuckling, those figures might drop!
Let’s face it, the cares of this world easily rob us of joy.
“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Laughter is contagious! Few can hold back a smile when deep, belly laughter erupts. I’m not talking about the kind that is serrated with sarcasm, barbed with ridicule, or is a satirical stab. Just that free unrestrained joy in the present.
It is Good!
Let’s look at the “good” hidden in this joyful behaviour.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
“Medicine” means “a healing and cure“. Several studies declare a cheerful attitude can improve the outcome of even the most serious illness.
One commentary says laughter “makes good recovery!” I like that! Even when ailments inflict, a good recovery sounds promising! If a “good recovery” includes healthier hearts, relaxed bodies, and boosted immune systems, then laughter delivers.
Believe it or not, joy is a personal choice — a way of “recovering”. Choosing joy creates a perspective that can make a big difference.
A few years ago, a difficult swirl threatened to engulf me. Every morning God encouraged “Choose joy!” So each day before my feet hit the floor, I agreed with God’s view and aligned my thinking.
That decision prevented the dysfunctional atmosphere from drowning me emotionally. Joy kept strength from being “sapped”! To “sap” here means “to be ashamed, confused, disappointed, to dry up, and wither.”
Was it easy? Certainly not!
Was it possible? By God’s grace, yes!
It is Godly
Do you know that God laughs? Discovering God’s response to situations will change our own view of things.
“The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.”
We have an enemy intentionally stealing, killing and destroying everything he can. He specifically targets our joy!
Recently, I was feeling the intensity of an onslaught. Problems of all sorts were hitting hard: physically, financially, relationally and spiritually. The enemy’s thrusts worked overtime in the lives of those I love and are close to.
During prayer, I felt God prompt, “Why don’t you laugh? I am!”
So I did! First strained and loudly! Then authentic laughter rolled naturally from some deep recess.
First, it was an act of obedience. Then I remembered I have a lot to laugh about. The enemy is still “gnashing his teeth” at us, but he was
crushed at the cross,
defeated on resurrection morning,
rendered powerless by the blood,
and sentenced to destruction.
Laughter is good! It reminds me the enemy’s “day is coming” when God brings justice. It produces alignment with God’s attitude, in some way bringing heaven’s glory to earth.
In Nehemiah’s day, the exiles returned after a long banishment to reestablish their homes. Under Ezra’s instruction,
“They read from the Book of the Law of God,
making it clear and giving the meaning
so that the people understood
what was being read.”
The grief stricken people realized that disobedience to God brought about their captivity.
Mourning sounds logical to me! Countless times, I’ve been on my face distressed over the contradiction between my attitudes, words or conduct and God’s holiness. Reading “the book” puts things into perspective!
Nehemiah says something surprising under the circumstances,
“…This day is holy to our Lord.
Do not grieve,
for the joy of the LORD
is your strength.”
Sometimes we need encouragement to move from grief to joy, sorrow to gladness, or wailing to laughing. When they felt like grieving, Nehemiah reminded them, “Laughter is good!”
This word “strength” means “a place of safety and protection.” It pictures standing on a solid rock, protected within a fortress, or secure in a strong defense.
A sports motto states, “The strongest offense is a powerful defense.”
God affirms that laughter implements both offensive and defensive action against Satan’s attacks.
Laughter is good! It creates a synergy between heaven and earth. Laughing at the enemy, no matter what his ploy, reminds me that God remains in control.
Laughing at Myself
I don’t purposely do incredibly foolish things! They spontaneously occur naturally and often! Laughter seems only logical in this moments.
A solid sense of self-worth releases me to laugh at my blunders and make light of my forgetfulness. Whether I have a particularly good day or not, my value securely resides with God alone.
Second, I demonstrate grace in even my ungraceful moments. I’m not what I used to be, but I sure haven’t arrived. Allowing myself time to laugh at my shortcomings liberates me to get up and try again.
Third, deliberately create time to laugh. It takes less energy to smile than to frown, I’m told.
Fourth, laugh at life! My father taught me well how to laugh during times of stress and pressure. He possessed an incredible ability to find a pool of joy in an ocean of despair.
Fifth, laugh at the past! I’m “getting long in the tooth”! Or in other words, I have more life behind me than ahead. Many situations threatened to crush me forever. By God’s grace, they served to refine me instead and in many ways make me stronger. Now, I smile in remembrance of those once painful times.
Pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals sang the Songs of Ascent, Psalm 120-134. The priests also repeated them as they ascended the steps to the temple. One song declared at each step forward and upward.
Joy resonates throughout these psalms.
“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”
Songs triumphantly raised in praise to a God so faithful!
“We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Listen to this declaration of praise and rejoicing!
“When the LORD restored
the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.”
And hear the promise!
“I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.”
If the pilgrims going to the temple praised God with rejoicing, perhaps I should take time to laugh as I journey through life’s course. If the priests sang praise while entering God’s presence, I’m thinking the same is important as I approach our Awesome God.
Have you captured the importance yet? Let’s all make today a time to laugh!