8/11/10

Laughter, to the Glory of God

I heard it all the way across Walmart, the infectious giggles of a small child. I couldn't help but chuckle myself. There's nothing like the laughter of children.

I once watched a video of an infant laughing and laughing and laughing. I was tired and stressed, so I watched it several times and ended up laughing so hard that my stomach muscles tightened and cramped. "Man, I needed that," I said.

Laughter does indeed serve as good medicine for the soul (Proverbs 17:22), and there are no side effects. God planned for this powerful release. Why do we so seldom use it?

We've all heard the verses. The wise writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "There is ... a time to laugh, and a time to weep" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Paul made it a principle for Christian community ~ We are to rejoice and weep with our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 12:15). Why is it that some people are quicker to enter into the sorrows and struggles of the Family of God, but so reticent to laugh and party with the saints. There is room for both in the plan of God.

I am part of a revival ministry. Believe me, there is much heart searching as we seek God. We repent of sin. We confess our sins one to another (James 5:16a) and pray for one another for spiritual healing. We don't want to stand in the way of anything God might want to do in bringing revival to churches and our nation. There are times of intense prayer; for some, fasting. It's serious business. There are seasons of life when our laughter needs to be turned to mourning as we humble ourselves before our holy God (James 4:7-10).

Though we need to seek God every day of our lives and confess sins in sincere repentance, we also need to rejoice in forgiveness and grace and the goodness of God. We rejoice in suffering as we identify with Christ (1 Peter 4:12-13; Acts 5:41; Matthew 5:11-12). We rejoice because our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). We rejoice as we give God glory (Revelation 19:7a). We rejoice in the Lord ~ in what we have and are in Christ (Philippians 3:1a). It is God's will that we rejoice and give thanks always (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:4).

When did we get so sophisticated that our rejoicing became a simple smile?

I remember one day, distinctly, when my laughter returned. I was driving into town after a light rain, and suddenly, I "saw" all the lovely greens God had created in nature ~ trees in pine green, emerald green, yellow-green, blue-green, and more. I said, "Thank you, Lord, that everything isn't just one shade of green." From that thought, I considered that God also creates every human with unique DNA and "colorful" personalities, and He is not willing that one of us should perish. Jesus died to redeem us ~ He died to redeem me.

As I considered my Creator's love, I wept in gratitude, and then, suddenly, I started to laugh. I laughed that God could remind me of His love and my need through a bunch of green trees. I rejoiced in the Lord. I reveled in His goodness.

From that day on, I began to look for the loving fingerprints of God all around me. I heard and saw Him in so many places. Of course, in the Word, but also in nature. In friends at church. In music. In my relationship with my husband. In my granddaughters at play. And yes, in that giggling child at Walmart.

I recently walked by a gathering of godly men at my church. I smiled to watch them interacting, laughing out loud. It's just my opinion, but I believe that Jesus laughed with (and perhaps, at) His disciples. How could he not spend time with impulsive Peter without at least a smile. I imagine that the One who turned water into wine at the Cana wedding entered into the celebration of His friends. I imagine that He smiled and laughed with the little ones who crawled into His lap. Jesus understands our sorrows and is acquainted with grief, the Bible says. He enters into our pain. Why would He not also understand what tickles our funny bones? Why would He not enter into our laughter?

Do we think that Jesus only wept? Perhaps smiled? Never laughed? As long as our laughter is holy, Jesus can join us. Keep it clean, but don't be afraid to laugh. Do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

When was the last time you took a good dose of the strong medicine of laughter?

If you would like to start your day with some laughter and then a thought-provoking message from scripture, I'd like to recommend my new book, authored with Pam Farrel: LOL with God: Devotional Messages of Help & Humor for Women, released on September 1st, but now available at Amazon.com and Christianbook.com. This is not meant to take the place of deeper Bible study, but simply to supplement your day with joy and truth.

To make it fun, we have turned Bible texts into text messages similar to what you might see on a cell phone. But the focus is on God's "text messages" to us ~ the powerful, life-changing Word of God.

What makes you Laugh Out Loud? What brings you the kind of spilling-over joy that comes from knowing the Lord? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

Marja said...

Oh my... LOL! This is awesome Dawn! Congrats on your book! What a wonderful idea.