By Rick Siel
It seems like in this time and circumstance that we are all facing, to talk about laughter and humor might seem out of place. But, healthy laughter is a wonderful and amazing gift from God. It helps you cope with sadness and the griefs of everyday life. Have you ever felt angry, frightened, sad, or depressed and then someone said something to make you laugh? Even though you were upset the laughter made your heart feel better.
Of course, laughter can be good or bad. There’s a time to laugh and there’s a time not to laugh. It’s always great to have a cheerful heart and laugh with family and friends, but crude jokes that make light of godliness, or make fun of others, or minimizes someone's pain. So, what does the Bible teach us about laughter?
Laughter can be used as a coping mechanism: “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief” (Proverbs 14:13).
Laughter can be a response to a miracle: “Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me’” (Genesis 21:6).
Laughter can be medicine for a broken heart: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Consider, many doctors will attest to the incredible discrepancy between patients with a sense of humor compared with those weighed down by fear. Both patients may experience the same pain, the same inconveniences, and the same diagnosis—yet the one whose heart is lightened by joy can experience a greater degree of recovery. God heals ailments in many different ways including the medicine of joy, cheerfulness, and laughter.
Laughter can evidence the fruit of joy: “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy” (Job 8:21). To every believer there is given the fruit of the Spirit, which includes an inexplicable joy from God. This joy isn’t only expressed in times of happiness and accomplishments, but also in deep disappointments and hurt from others. Even in the midst of persecution there can be joy expressed in the form of laughter. Not because of the pain, but because of the promises, expressions, and encouragement fed to the spirit of man through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Life is hard and many times it is compounded by the sadness within us and all around us. While we should not deny our pain and frustration, we have within us the Holy Spirit of God who assures us of God’s gracious presence with us. Our humor is not to be forced as much as it is a spiritual response to the pain around us in the light of God's redemptive plan in Christ Jesus. We grieve with hope. We resist the temptation to let trials and troubles consume our hearts because of the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 17:22 - A merry heart does good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Psalms 126:2 - Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 - A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Proverbs 15:13 - A merry heart makes for a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Psalms 32:11 - Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, you righteous ones: and shout for joy, all upright in heart.
Psalms 16:11 - You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Psalms 4:7 - You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the time their grain and their wine increased.
Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, Rejoice!
Healthy laughter is a wonderful gift from God. He grants us the ability to laugh out loud at ourselves in the safety of family and friends. His graciousness is demonstrated through us by the peace and presence of the Holy Spirit. Next time you laugh out loud, let it resound with gratitude to our Father in heaven for this blessing.