Real Joy, Laughter that lasts!

joy1Don’t you just love the kind of laugh that overtakes you and won’t let go? Each time you think about the thing that brought you such joy, the laughter returns. Hanging with friends with a rich sense of humor is a one of life’s good gifts. Laughing with others brings human warmth, connecting us. Note how often a public speaker will use humor in his opening remarks. Why? People who laugh have opened themselves to another.  Laughter helps to restore our souls. Medical science teaches us that laughter is healing. It strengthens the immune system, relaxes tension, and releases chemicals in the brain that overcome stress.  Oh, yes, there is a kind of laughter that hurts. When we are laughed at, when someone makes a fool of us, when another chooses to point out some embarrassing thing, we feel pain, don’t we?

Pilgrims who walked the road that ascended to Jerusalem, going to Jerusalem to celebrate the holy festivals, sang Psalms called the ‘songs of ascent.’  One of them says, “When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalm 126:1-3, NIV) They remembered the ‘impossible’ rescue of the people of God from their captivity in Babylon!  The nation was destroyed, the Temple ruined, the land devastated but God stepped in and did something amazing. He restored a devastated nation. He wasn’t finished with them. Their restoration was a cause for joy, a source of amazement.

Has something left you devastated? Does your life seem broken beyond repair? Weep, and pray for the JOY of the Lord to overtake you.  Nehemiah led the returning captives to repentance and then to ‘the joy of the Lord’ which was their strength. Wait! Pray! Believe! Trust! Obey!  He will move to save you.  He has broken the hold of sin, Self, and Satan so that we can live with joyful purpose.

25 years ago, after going through significant loss that I failed to understand or process in faith, I entered a time of deep depression. Laughter was forgotten, only duty remained. God’s Presence eluded me, but I held onto God’s promise of renewal, to the hope that a new morning would break into the darkness. At a week-long conference for pastors who were going through difficult times, convened in a beautiful place at the foot of the Rocky Mountain range, the Presence of God found me.  Worshiping with a 100 other men in various kinds of crisis, a man led us to joy, someone who had been through his own crisis.  He was a pianist, whose joy was his music. He practiced too much and ruined his tendons, losing his ability to play. He mourned, then God healed him. His song is “Mourning Into Dancing,” which was the expression of the laughter he found in his restoration!

Sorrowful today? Focus on the faithfulness of God.
Offer up what the Bible calls a ‘sacrifice of praise,’ not insincere ‘happy-talk,’ but real thankfulness for His gifts. Sit quietly and soak in His Presence.
Find support in loving friends in God’s family.  And, let Him give the gift of laughter again. The Word says that He will wipe every tear from our eyes!

Here is a word from the Word –
All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God!
Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love.
The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.
” (Psalm 30:4-5, The Message)


Mourning Into Dancing

You have turned my mourning
Into dancing, Lord.
Now my feet are filled
With Your praise.
You have clothed my spirit
With a robe of joy
You have cast my sorrow away.

For Your anger lasts
But a moment, Lord.
And my tears endure
For the night.
But Your favor
Lasts for a lifetime, Lord.
My joy returns
With the morning light.

All my foes lose heart
When they hear my voice,
For I speak in Jesus’ name.
They turn back in fear
At the sound of praise,
I’ll not keep silent
I must proclaim…

You have turned my mourning
Into dancing, Lord.
Now my feet are filled
With Your praise.
You have clothed my spirit
With a robe of joy
You have cast my sorrow away.

John G. Elliott © 1986 BMG Songs, Inc. (Admin. by BMG Music Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055


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