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October 7, 2009
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
Have you ever had a time so bad that all you wanted to do was laugh? There's so much serious in our world right now. People are downtrodden, worried, beside themselves with fear. My mother used to speak of "life and its little jokes." When things get so bad, we just laugh. We need to laugh. Laughter provides an escape valve for feelings, ideas, and inhibitions that get pent-up inside of us. Steam builds up in us as in a tea kettle and we need to let that steam out before we do something rash.
Comedians tell us that people laugh at pain and suffering, at their own discomfort, frailty, and weakness. People laugh at the human condition. Are we that pathetic? It seems so. People laugh at funerals, laugh to belittle others, laugh when someone else starts laughing, laugh to cover nervousness or embarrassment, laugh to secure a place in a social pecking order. People even laugh at things that aren't really funny.
Comedians also say that a good joke needs a hook and a twist. We expect something to happen and then there's a twist. What we expected is denied and we are carried in an entirely different direction. The joke's on us, and we laugh. We need to laugh at ourselves sometimes and "get over" ourselves.
God has His own sense of humor, at least from our perspective. God had promised Abraham a son. Abraham sought to fulfill that promise on his own, through Hagar. God said, no, that his wife Sarah, long past the age of child bearing, would herself bear a child. To think Sarah would have a child caused Abraham to fall on his face and laugh. What a joke! Abraham thought, "Shall a child be born unto him that is 100 years old? And shall Sarah, that is 90 years old, bear?" (Gen. 17.17) God just continued to say that Sarah indeed would bear a son and his name would be Isaac, which means "laughter." Later, Sarah overheard a conversation between Abraham and three men wherein it was said that she would bear a son. Sarah laughed within herself. "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Genesis 18.14) Was it ridiculous? Apparently not from God's perspective. Sarah did have a son, Isaac. (Genesis 21.6) He was a child of
promise, a child of the covenant of grace.
We find several kinds of laughter in the Bible: the laughter of incredulity as here; the laughter of approval (Job 29.24); hollow laughter with undertones of sorrow (Prov. 14.13); the laughter of scorn (Ps 2.4, 2 Kings 19.21, Neh. 2.19, Job 12.4, Mt. 9.24); the laughter of outrageous delight (Psalm 126.2).
"Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will He help the evil doers: till He fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing." (Job 8.20, 21) We may be frustrated at our circumstances, at what we don't see God doing. We may be travailing before God, crying out to Him, weeping, wondering if there is any truth, any good. Yet know this, that there is a connection between groaning and laughter. Weeping may last for a night; but joy comes in the morning. We may experience great loss, and suddenly, a twist. God turns the tables on His enemies. God takes captivity captive. We will laugh. Yes, we groan, weep, mourn, cry out to God, but God gives the oil of joy for mourning. (Is 61)
There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh. (Eccles. 3.4a) Laughter heals. "A merry heart does good like medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones." (Prov. 17.22) "All the days of the afflicted are evil; but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast." (Prov. 15.15) Professionals know that laughter has benefits: it decreases stress hormone levels, strengthens the immune system, helps to relax muscles, reduces pain, helps to lower blood pressure, improves cardiovascular, and acts as a natural anti-depressant. Wholesome laughter is beneficial. A merry heart carries us through hard times.
Does God laugh? Yes. He laughs in derision of His enemies, at the futility of plots against Him (Psalm 2). In Psalm 59.8 it says, "But You, O LORD, laugh at them [David's enemies when Saul was set to get rid of David]; You scoff at all the nations." "The Lord laughs at him [the wicked]; for He sees his day is coming." (Ps 37.13) Laughter breaks the devil's strategy against life.
In Proverbs 1.20-33 Wisdom shouts in the street but people don't want the Wisdom of God even when He admonishes them to repent and turn. When Wisdom's counsel is neglected and correction rebuffed, Wisdom says, "I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes...For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD…But whoso hearkens unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."
Jesus says those that weep now are blessed, for they shall laugh. (Luke 6.21) In the cycle of sorrow and laughter, we will laugh. Yet, let us not forsake the word of God for emotions because our outward emotions change while our hearts should remain steadfast by hiding the word of God in our hearts. Let us wait for God to give us our time of laughter. People of faith can have a confidence in Christ that brings peace in times of crisis. God anoints with the oil of gladness/joy. Jesus tells His disciples to cheer up. Yes, there is tribulation in the world, but He has overcome the world. (John 16.33) Find peace in Christ.
Scripture warns against coarse jesting, delighting in indecency, obscenity, and foolish talking. We don't need to tear others down and/or laugh at other's tragedies. We need to encourage wholesome laughter as we find humor in life. We need to rejoice with others and get delivered from pride and envy. Indeed, every believer can benefit from laughter by keeping the following helpful hints in mind:
1. Develop a sense of humor as you walk in humility before a holy God. (James 4)
2. Learn to laugh at yourself, with yourself, and with others when they rejoice. (1 Sam 30.6)
3. Spend time with children because children are known to laugh 100+ times more than adults.
4. Read or watch something funny, but avoid coarse jesting. (Ephesians 5.4)
5. Smile. Be of good cheer. (Mt. 9.2, Mark 6.50, John 16.33)
6. Step back and try to find the humor in a situation. (Job 5.8-27)
7. Value the extremes. How ridiculous is it? (Mt. 19.24, Luke 18.25)
8. Laugh with someone else. (Romans 12.15)
Fools laugh on the road to destruction (Proverbs 10.23; 26.19; 29.9). The difference between the fool and the wise is the timing of laughter, the object of laughter, and what's behind it. Laughter is not joy, though we can laugh when filled with joy. We might have an experience in which we sing and clap our hands, laugh, and feel good for awhile. That's not necessarily joy.
Joy endures and is real. Real enduring joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22). It comes as we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13.52). For real joy, we need God (Ps 43.4; Ps 16; Ps 32) and the indwelling word (Ps 119.111, 112). The believer's joy comes from the Lord (Romans 15.13).
Our emotions cycle around-we weep, we laugh, we mourn, we laugh. Joy comes from knowing that Jesus Owns You. J O Y Joy depends on the Lord, and not on our circumstances. Abiding joy will cause us to bubble up from deep inside and smile, cause us to be thankful in every thing.
Jesus is alive! He came in the power of an endless life. Jesus came with a hook and a twist to cause us to laugh. We thought we would die and that would be the end of us. So did/does the unbeliever; he thinks there is no God, no one to whom he must give an account. For the unbeliever, the joke is on him; he doesn't die but faces a second death. For the believer, the joke's on us but the joke is also on the devil and on death, hell, and the grave. Those who believe in Jesus will not die, but live as Jesus lives. (John 14.19) Jesus lives within every believer and will never leave or forsake His own. (Ps 37; Hebrews 13.5) Cheer up! Laugh! Live! Love!
God holds your life in His hands. Be healed as you are baptized into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's not just a ritual; it's a position of enduring life flowing from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for giving to MCM! We are reaching out to more and more people through MCM media outreach, Barnabas Project, Bible teaching, worship services, evangelism, "refrigerator ministry," healing, our new Kinetic Koinonia, and the small group ministries of Craighouse®.
Serving the Lord of Glory,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up
That which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down,
And a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn,
And a time to dance…Ecclesiastes 3.1-4
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