Laughter Is Good Medicine
Monday, November, 21, 2016 | 3:25 PM | by Pastor Rick
A few years ago a man phoned to tell me he did not like my sense of humor. “What does laughing have to do with being a Christian?” he asked. I got his address and stuffed a potato in his exhaust pipe. Not really. But the thought did occur to me.
My son Chris seems to think laughter is a good idea. His laugh is contagious. When he was very small, he took to screaming during a sermon, so Jean whisked him out the back. As she did, he yelled over her shoulder, “Pray for me!”
I am convinced that few weapons are more important in fighting discouragement and difficulty these days than a good sense of humor. Laughter, stress, and worry cannot co-exist for long. Stress inflates our balloons to the popping point; laughter slowly releases the pressure. Laughter is cholesterol free, contains no MSG, no fat, and no negative side effects. Although it got me into a ton of trouble in fifth grade, laughter never committed a crime or started a war, and there is no record of anyone who died laughing. I have seen laughter disarm, revive, motivate, encourage, and cheer. It is the shortest distance between two people, and one of the few things the government does not yet tax.
But laughter is not always easy to come by, is it? Life is difficult. Times are tough. While speaking at a retreat, I noticed one couple sitting in the front row at each of my sessions. The wife was a brilliant and witty woman who laughed at all of my jokes! But her husband merely glared at me. For three days he did this. His lips were puckered. He looked like he'd been sucking rivets off a skateboard. After the final session, his wife approached me with a smile and an extended hand. “I just want to thank you,” she said. “I haven't seen my husband laugh this hard in years.”
I knew a lady who was suffering from Cancer. Her positive attitude never ceased to amaze us, and perhaps most noticeably, was her easy laugh. Those who have every reason to cry and yet choose to laugh seem to have a jump-start on life. A doctor told her husband that his wife’s attitude has reduced the symptoms of Cancer by 50 per cent.”
“It seems your belief in a higher power has helped you,” a psychologist said to her one day. She said, “That would be God,” she said.
Robin’s laughter was one who discovered the art of Christian living: giving thanks for what we can see and not complaining about what remains in the dark. At the very core, she knew that she was loved by God, held in His arms, and promised the eternal joys of heaven. She learned that God gives us enough light for the next faltering step, so she rejoiced in the little light she was given, not asking for some great spotlight to take all the shadows away.
Laughter plugged the springs of bitterness, put a permanent cork on tension, and soothed the crippling pain of disappointment. She could be pinned to the mat, but instead she pinned this magnet to her fridge: “In the world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Just below it is another one: “If you can't make me thin, make my friends look fat.”
I have made a surprising discovery lately—Christians laugh harder. I have seen them fall off benches, ask for oxygen, and hyperventilate. Perhaps the world laughs to forget, but Christians laugh because we remember. We remember that the most serious issues were dealt with at the cross. Death was swallowed up. Eternity was promised. Surely the greatest punch line in all of history is this: that a holy God could love the likes of me. This truth bids me live life with thanksgiving. And sometimes you may see me laughing. It is the laughter of one who deserves the worst and is offered the best. It is the laughter of the forgiven.