Monday, June 17, 2013

Laughter From A Cheerful Heart

Talking about laughter can be a difficult thing, especially when that laughter is directed toward a person including ourselves. We find in Scripture that the majority of references to laughter are pointing to one as either being foolish, prideful, or lacking understanding. The fool is often laughed at and he, himself, often laughs or scoffs at things that are in conflict his worldly mindset. The prideful person generally laughs from his position at those who struggle and might not have the same perceived benefits. Then there are the ones who laugh because of disbelief or a lack of understanding. In Proverbs 29:9 says, “When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.”

But laughter in itself is not wrong. We read in Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven … “A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

In Psalm 126:1-3, which is one of the psalms of assent, we read, “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” Here we find that from their glad hearts they burst forth in laughter – in joyful appreciation of what God had done for them.

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, stands as an example of one in Scripture who laughs both negatively and positively. In Genesis 18:9-15 we read:

Then they [three men including the Lord as identified in verse 14] said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ “Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

In these verses Sarah laughed out of disbelief. Something was told in her hearing that she knew not to be humanly possible and she laughed at it, and when she was called on her laughing she denied she had done it. But in verse 14 we have who appears to be Christ Himself speaking to them and questioning them if anything was too difficult for Him. Then He restated the promise. And as we know when that year passed Sarah had given birth to that promised son. This brings us to her next recorded instance of laughter.

Genesis 21:1-7 Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 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.”

Sarah found laughter in her old age, both in holding her son and in knowing that God had done this for her. And Abraham named that son Isaac as the Lord had instructed him in a previous visit (Genesis 17:19), and Isaac means “he laughs” – the name God chose.

Our God of the impossible does that which we think cannot be done, and He delights in doing so. And when we realize this we can walk with Him in merry laughter, knowing His joy. And like Sarah, even when we doubt Him at first, we can stop and possibly even laugh at our unbelief in the face of His faithfulness. We can also find great laughter as we enjoy one another sharing special and even hilarious or spontaneous moments with each other.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (6/17)

Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. Don’t take yourself or your circumstances so seriously. Relax and know that I am God with you. When you desire My will above all else, life becomes much less threatening. Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities – things that are beyond your control. Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.

Laughter lightens your load and lifts your heart into heavenly places. Your laughter rises to heaven and blends with angelic melodies of praise. Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing My children laugh. I rejoice when you trust Me enough to enjoy your life lightheartedly.

Do not miss the Joy of My Presence by carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Rather, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. My yoke is comfortable and pleasant; My burden is light and easily borne.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


Deb J. said...

I like what I call 'natural laughter' that comes from something unexpected. Like a squirrel who slips off a shelf while cracking a p-nut and not paying attention where he was putting his feet....(no injury of course)...or when that child on my tour zipped himself in his vest and did a face plant in the mud while sitting between two adult men who were not realizing he was gone. This kid also wasn't hurt, just 'stunned'.
I never laugh at movie comedies and think most 'funny' films are basic ridicule. Call me crazy, but a wholesome guffaw is way better than someone who gets 'set-up' or becomes the brunt of others' 'humorous' but truly unveiled bullying.

Joe Burgess said...

Deb: Great comment. I'll have to remember "natural laughter." It's one I do a lot, but for which I had no name.

Deb j. said...

Yeah I once walked into a post while looking at some cute boys on the track, in middle school, and broke my nose. Oh yes, blood, ER trip, and a big white thing over my nose for several weeks, but even I couldn't stop laughing at my idiocy when I looked in the mirror at my black eyes in the morning. There's no good story you can tell that's better than the truth.
And it still makes me smile today.