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Rely on Joy

28 Mar

After Zeuxis, a Greek painter, completed his painting of an old woman, he thought it was pretty funny. The painter laughed so hard at his creation he couldn’t catch is breath. He ended up choking to death! (Mentalfloss.com relates this and nine other stories about people in history who laughed themselves to death.)

It’s one thing to laugh until you cry. But laugh until you die? I’ve heard the phrase, “I laughed my ClingToJoy_LOLhead off.” Really? Maybe it just felt like it. It’s been my experience that extreme laughter can give me a headache.

Have you ever laughed so hard, maybe even while crying and holding your sides, that you declared, “Oh. Oh! I can’t breathe!”

I’ve had those moments. Once, while on vacation with my husband, his sister and her husband, we got so tickled we were all laughing, crying and pounding the table, yelling, “Stop! Stop! Oh . . . it hurts!” Just when we got settled down, one of us made a comment and we’d sputter into a laughing jag all over again.

Health mag* shared some facts about laughter.

  • 25 – number of calories burned in a five minute laugh session
  • 17 – average number of times an adult laughs every day
  • 15 – number of facial muscles that contract when you laugh
  • 5 years – age at which we laugh the most exuberantly
  • 30 times- greater likelihood of laughing when with others rather than alone
  • 3 months – age at which humans start to laugh
  • 4/10 second – amount of time between the occurrence of something funny and your brain’s  reaction to it

Clearly, laughter is good for us – when it doesn’t kill us!

And it is, the Good Book says, “good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

But what do we do when laughter escapes us — when circumstances hurt and we think we’ll never smile again, let alone laugh?

Then we rely on joy.

Depending on the translation, the words “happy” and “happiness” show up in the Scriptures around 30 times, but “joy” and it’s cousin “rejoice” appear more than 300 times!

James says joy can occur even in the midst of trials (James 1:2) . . . “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4). This kind of joy comes through the Lord as He strengthens and matures us, in spite of our struggles, but also in our struggles as we place our trust in Christ.

For Christians, when happiness flees, joy remains. It’s not dependent on circumstances. Paul could speak repeatedly of joy while in Rome’s prison because God transformed his perspective about suffering. Paul rejoiced because He relied on God’s purposes, and He understood one of those great purposes was for him to share the Gospel with the prison guards (Acts 28:30; Philippians 1:12-24).

Cling to joy. It’s a gift of the Spirit. And when you can, enjoy a good, healing dose of laughter.

When do you find it most difficult to laugh? Can you cling to joy instead?

* “Laugh It Up,” Health mag, June 1013, p. 90.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

– Dawn

 

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Craving a Double Blessing

13 Sep

The chef of the upscale restaurant I manage collided with a waiter one day and spilled coffee all over our computer. The liquid poured CoffeeOnKeyboard2into the processing unit and resulted in some dramatic crackling and popping sounds. After sopping up the mess, we gathered around the terminal as the computer was turned back on again.

“Please let it work,” pleaded the guilt-ridden waiter.

A waitress replied, “Should be faster than ever. That was a double espresso.” *

Double espresso, double chocolate, double just about anything makes me smile except “double trouble” – which is what some people call twins, but I see that as a double blessing.

I’ve discovered God is in the “blessing business,” and the scriptures, especially the Psalms, tell us many ways He blesses us. My favorite is a double blessing found in the very first verse of Psalm 119:

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” (119:1)

The word “blessed” can be translated “happy.” So this is a happy-happy scripture!

That doesn’t mean everyone who reads this scripture is doubly blessed, or even happy. In fact, the world views the holiness and commitment described in this verse as a downer, a recipe for a miserable life.

But those who seek and know the Lord will come to value His Word and desire to walk in His will and ways. They will understand an important truth:

Holiness is the pathway to true happiness.

I first discovered this connection between holiness and happiness when I read Psalm 1. The psalmist says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (vv. 1-2).

If we’re going to be happy in the Lord and experience all that He has for us – peace, power, provision and more – we need to be in His Word.

This is one area where we can’t “fake it ’til we make it.” Either we’re revived and happy in the Word or we’re not.

I want the double blessing and more, don’t you?

*Cybersalt Digest humor, Issue #3757, October 2011

— Dawn

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