Opening God’s Gift of Laughter

31 Aug

Mary Poppins visited a hotel and asked the receptionist for room service. She selected Cauliflower Cheese for Silhouette - Mary Poppinsher dinner, and decided to go ahead and order breakfast in bed for the next morning, too ~ a couple of poached eggs.

The next morning, as she checked out, the same receptionist asked her if she slept well.

“Yes, thank you.” Mary replied.

“Food to your liking?” the receptionist asked.

“Well, I have to say that the cauliflower cheese was exceptional. I don’t think I have had better. Shame about the eggs, though,” Mary replied truthfully.

“We are always looking to improve our service and would value your opinion,” the receptionist said. So Mary scribbled a comment into the Guest Comments book as she checked out. Curious, the receptionist picked up the book to read Mary’s comment:

“Supercauliflowercheesebuteggswerequiteatrocious!” (1)

Pam came across a devotional from Crosswalk recently. It was written by Leslie Snyder and titled “Laughter.”  Snyder wrote, “One of our family’s favorite songs is from the musical Mary Poppins. ‘I Love to Laugh‘ is sprinkled with laughter and often begins a contagious wave of the giggles. The lyrics give a bit of insight into this silly gift of laughter:

“When things strike me as funny, I can’t hide it inside
And squeak – as the squeakelers do – I’ve got to let go with a ho-ho-ho… And a ha-ha-ha…too!

“We love to laugh Loud and long and clear
We love to laugh So ev’rybody can hear
The more you laugh The more you fill with glee
And the more the glee The more we’re a merrier we.” (2)

Have you seen that scene?” As Ed Wynn, Dick Van Dyke, and Julie Andrews sang with infectious laughter, I (Dawn) laughed along with them. Who wouldn’t?  There’s nothing like joy and laughter ~ and of all people, Christians should be most joyous.

Over the past year, since the release of our book, LOL with God, I’ve thought about laughter a lot.  I’ve also considered the emotions of Jesus many times. Pam and I noted in our book (on pp. 241-242 ~ “The Last Laugh”), that we thought Jesus wasn’t just “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), but He Jesus' Angerwas flesh and blood (John 1:14). He displayed real human emotions like righteous anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 3:5) and sorrow (John 11:33-35).

Jesus felt things just like you and I do, but His emotions (unlike ours so often) were always based in His holy character; and, because of His dual nature, He didn’t see things as we see them.

As the Son of God, He grieved over things that we might miss, like His Jesus weepinganguish over the unbelief of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), or His unusual sense of “joy” that came with eternal perspective. The Bible says, “for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus rejoiced in his impending death because He “saw” the resurrection ahead and what it would mean for you and me!

We wrote in LOL with God, “Jesus, though fully God, was also fully human. He was an extraordinary human, and we think He must have had wonderful moments of laughter as He walked this earth.”

Wise Solomon said, in Ecclesiastes 3:3, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh,” and surely Jesus knew that scripture.

Lazarus & His Sisters

Joy at Lazarus' Resurrection!

I love to imagine the wide swing of emotions He had at the death and resurrection of His friend, Lazarus, all within a short period of time (John 11:1-44). Imagine His pained, sorrowful expression, hearing of Lazarus’ death, perhaps smiling at Martha’s confession of faith (v. 27), being moved with compassion by her sister Mary’s words, weeping over Lazarus (vv. 29-35), and then the joy there must have been in restoring Lazarus to his precious sisters.

Although there is no scripture that is specific in saying Jesus laughed, on several occasions in His ministry He showed that He had a sense of humor when He made funny comparisons. He talked about a splinter versus a beam (Matthew 7:4) and a gnat versus a camel (Matthew 23:24)

Jesus led a purposeful life, and no doubt part of His manifestation of the glory of God was to show the complete joy of a right relationship with the Father and the outworking of His will. For example, Jesus expressed great joy when his disciples returned from a preaching mission (Luke 10:17-21), and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus talked about the utter joy of finding a “lost sheep” (Luke 15:5-6).

Luke 10:21 says Jesus was “full of joy through the Holy Spirit.” It is not beyond imagination to picture the Son of God, full of joy, laughing at certain times in His life. Imagine His joy in knowing that His enemy, Satan, was defeated ~ and to know He was fulfilling the promise of Genesis 3:15! [I love a print depicting “The Risen Christ by the Sea” that illustrates the joy of Jesus’ victory.]

I had to smile when I observed one of my granddaughters, Jenna Marie, opening a gift a few years ago. Overcome with joy when she saw her gift, she clapped her hands and laughed. There is nothing like the  exuberance of a child who has not yet learned to subdue joy. I am reminded of a scripture in Isaiah that talks about the kind of joy that a person has when he or she realizes the powerful, purposeful workings of God. Even the trees of the field “clap their hands” in joyful response (Isaiah 55:9-12). Can you picture it?

I imagine that all of our emotions, made righteous, will be heightened in heaven. Imagine joy that overflows and abounds until we can’t contain it. We get glimpses of that kind of joy this side of heaven.

Two Girls LaughingIn her devotional, Snyder said, “Recent statistics share that laughter peaks at the age of four, meaning that four-year-old children laugh more than they will at any other age.” [I am picturing my Jenna Marie right now!]

Snyder said, “Statistics also reveal the healing power of laughter. Laughter decreases stress, releases natural mood-lifting endorphins, fights off depression, and strengthens the body.” The scriptures do declare the power of a happy heart. It is “good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22) and it “strengthens” us (Nehemiah 8:10b).

But the statement she made that caused me to smile was this one: “It is also a gift from God and music to his ears.” Have you ever thought about that? Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit indwelling us (Galatians 5:22).  God gives us so many gifts to enjoy ~ and joy (songs of praise, smiles, laughter, giggles, etc.) is a precious gift that adds so much to our lives. But it is also a unique kind of “music” to God’s ears.

Every parent knows the “music” of a child’s laughter. (Sometimes we tickle our kids just to hear them laugh!) How could our heavenly Father not enjoy the joyful outbursts of His children? Can you join in with a hearty “shout for joy”? (Psalm 66:1)

Have you thanked God for His wonderful gift? Have you opened it ~ in other words, are you USING His gift?

Consider this today: How can you minister to others, not only through the serious presentation of the gospel and sharing/teaching the truth principles of scripture, but also through the simple example of a joy-filled life?

(1) Adapted, from http://www.ahajokes.com/pun23.html

(2) Richard and Robert Sherman, “I Love to Laugh” from the movie, Mary Poppins (1964)

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2 Responses to “Opening God’s Gift of Laughter”

  1. Lynn Mosher September 1, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    The best sound in the world to me is the laughter of my children or grandchildren. But even better than that would be to hear the laughing sounds of Jesus. I can’t wait to get to heaven to hear that beautiful sound! Thanks for this. I loved it!

    • Dawn Wilson September 1, 2011 at 12:34 am #

      Lynn, it will be one of those sounds of heaven that will surprise us, I think.

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