“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed…All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast…The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” (Prov. 15:13, 15, 30)
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for everything under heaven. We focus on the big things in that list, but there is one that is crucial to our well-being every day – “…a time to laugh.” I love the way the King James puts Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like medicine…” This word merry is often translated “joyful,” but it is much more than that. It truly encompasses glee and laughter.
There are some people who question whether God has a sense of humor and laughs. I have no doubt that our funny bone comes from Him. Since we are made in God’s image, it is logical to believe that if we have a sense of humor, so does He; if we can laugh, He does, too. Anyone who’s heard a child’s laughter knows that delightful sound could only come from a loving God. Moreover, to make sure we always have something about which to laugh, He gave us creatures like the wildebeest and ostrich. Seeing those remarkable animals, however, isn’t necessary for laughter once we take a good look at our own lives and the various pickles in which we find ourselves. I, for one, frequently find myself in pickle juice so there is often a reason to laugh!
Of course, we know that laughter comes from God. I am often struck when people, facing dire and threatening situations, will often burst out into laughter. It is more than just an evolutionary response developed over eons; it is a design by God who is an “ever-present help in trouble.”
God is the one who lifts us out of despair and gloom and he often does that with laughter. A God-given sense of humor, however, never laughs at the expense of others; it’s not sarcastic or mocking nor is it crude, crass or cruel. A sense of humor gives us the ability to see, appreciate and express what is funny or amusing about a situation, especially when it’s our own. God’s gift of humor is necessary for survival because, without some laughter at our human predicaments, all that is left is tears. As Henry Ward Beecher said: “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”
So, I have not yet attained my doctorate, but I’m going to write you all a prescription today: “Laugh!” Have a good belly laugh that brings tears to your eyes. It will be good for your soul. Experience the joy that we have in a very good God, one who loves us more than we could ever imagine.