Don’t you love getting together with some good friends and swapping stories that make you laugh out loud? I love when my family hangs out and starts remembering those dumb choices, the silly kid tricks, and telling “Dad” stories, a rich source of humor. Laughing with others is a great pleasure. But, if you have been made a fool, becoming the object of ridicule, the laughter isn’t fun. It hurts!
God loves laughter. One of the myths of spirituality is that it demands a serious, humorless personality. One of the evidences of the Spirit in us is JOY. One of God’s gifts is the ability to overcome the sorrows of life with hope that leads to renewed joy much as the dawn following the night’s darkness. “You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 63:5-7, NLT)
On this Monday morning, take a moment to recover joy. Make the decision that you will not start this week from a place of defeat or despair. Begin to praise Him, for Who He is. Hand off the concerns that weigh you down. Take joy! Let it find you in a song, touch you from the depths as you recall a moment of God’s faithfulness, surprise you from an unexpected place. Laugh with God!
Ah, beware the hollow laughter that is too often found about the pseudo-sophisticates who love to snidely poke fun at those they consider ‘less’ or inferior. Refuse to let the laughter of the cynic to own your heart, that laughs at others instead of with them.
In Genesis, God came to Abraham and Sarah with a promise that seems like a joke. In advanced age, He said, “A year from now you will be enjoying a baby boy!” Sarah was a woman far beyond child-bearing years. She had given up all hope of having a child. As the visitors sat with her husband at the entry to their tent home, she listened in to a conversation that sounded absurd.
“Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:10-14, NLT)
Can you blame her for laughing? But her laughter was not born of delighted faith. It was an expression of disbelief. She laughed at God, instead of with Him.
But, God was faithful to His word in spite of her. Later, she had opportunity to laugh with God! “She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” (Genesis 21:1-7, NLT) Yes, she named her son Isaac which means ‘He laughs.’
Do feel the stirring of the Spirit, the outlines of a promise taking shape in you? How will you respond?
Will you laugh at God, dismissing His inspiration as something other than what it is?
Or, will you laugh with Him, celebrating His work in your, even in apparently impossible situations?
The word from the Word is from Paul’s letter of joy, written from prison. He refused to let his situation define his response, choosing joy. He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7, NIV) Amen.
Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee (Ode To Joy)|
(Michael W. Smith does this hymn well. Be joyful with him)
Joyful joyful we adore Thee
God of glory Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day
All Thy works with joy surround Thee
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays
Stars and angels sing around Thee
Center of unbroken praise
Field and forest vale and mountain
Flowery meadow flashing sea
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee
Thou art giving and forgiving
Ever blessing ever blest
Wellspring of the joy of living
Ocean depth of happy rest
Thou our Father Christ our Brother
All who live in love are Thine
Teach us how to love each other
Lift us to the joy divine
Mortals join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began
Father love is reigning o’er us
Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife
Joyful music lifts us sunward
In the triumph song of life
Edward Hodges | Henry Van Dyke Public Domain