Wisdom Loves to Laugh
Each night I read some Bible out loud before we pray…as Wyndham can’t hold a book and reading is too tiring for him. Last night as I was reading I verbally stumbled with a tongue-twisting word. I kept saying it wrong, repeating it, and then saying it wrong again. Wyndham’s voice is weak, but as I was reading, tongue-twisted, this quiet voice came from the man laying in the bed who almost looked as if he was asleep… “easy for you to say.”
My concentration completely left me when I heard this. I just laughed for a while at his quick and sarcastic comment.
Truth is, we laugh a lot. We need to. We encounter a lot of daily (hourly) hard things in our lives at this stage. We can cry or laugh. Very occasionally we cry, but most often we choose to laugh. We intentionally laugh and find things to laugh at. Laughing is good for our health. And, it feels better.
In fact, Mayo Clinic reports that laughter induces physical changes in our bodies. It stimulates our heart, lungs, and muscles and increases our endorphins. Laughter also activates and relieves our stress response, soothes tension, improves our immune system, relieves pain, increases personal satisfaction, and improves our mood.1
Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is: “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
I am quite sure God has a sense of humor. Just look at some of his creation! The porcupine, the aardvark, otter, the penguin, puppies, and the sloth likely induce some heavenly laughter. (I follow an Instagram post that has the sole purpose of showing the cuteness and funny antics of animals—It’s called happiness4all if you want to add this little joy to your life.)
Think of some of the crazy and unlikely ways God has worked in your life. Certainly some of these show God’s sense of humor (as well as his incredible grace toward us).
I find remarkable irony and humor (and God’s wisdom and power) when in Numbers 22 Balaam’s donkey spoke like a man and Balaam, well, he acted like a donkey. And picture when Gideon’s tiny army defeated the Midianites by blowing ram’s horns and breaking clay jars (Judges 7). And Jesus, God in the flesh, was born in a stable, was presented as a king riding on a donkey, and his lineage included Rahab, a prostitute.
Likely, since we don’t live in the first century, we miss much of the humor of Jesus when he uses hyperbole, parables, and exaggeration to make his points.
The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, “Jesus was a master of wordplay, irony and satire, often with an element of humor intermixed.”2
Consider Jesus’ word pictures of a log in someone’s eye, and religious leaders who strained gnats and swallowed camels. Swallow a camel?
But most convincingly, we are created in the image of God! You are, and I am too—and I sure do love humor. I love to laugh. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite things to do.
The Proverbs of wisdom recount the benefits of a joyful disposition. This would certainly include smiles and laughter. The Scriptures knew this long before Mayo Clinic found out.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
Proverbs also adds, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful” (15:13); or seen from a different view in verse 30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Proverbs 16:24 tells us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
It’s good to laugh. To be cheerful. This sign hangs in the entrance to our living room, and it’s a good one. (And yes, the Red Sox playing in the background add joy as well.) While Wyndham takes some medicine for some symptoms, the best medicine is a cheerful heart.
May we all heed the wisdom of God (and this sign) as we “Live well, laugh often, and love much.”
2. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds., “Humor—Jesus as Humorist,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 410.