Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Time To Laugh

I love to laugh!
Loud and long and clear
I love to laugh
So everybody can hear!
The more I laugh,
The more I’m filled with glee
And the more the glee...
The more I’m a merrier me!

     We live on a battlefield, we Christians. We are constantly embroiled in thick, nasty messes of figurative bloody gore, from which we emerge pained and wounded but all the stronger for it. We are called to be strong and wise and constantly on the alert. We are a fierce people! Gravity is welcomed in our lives; in fact, it is a prized virtue. Sobriety and solemnity are touted as superior qualities, and silliness is frowned upon disapprovingly. And in many ways and places it is certainly so. There are some things which are, without question, no laughing matter: some battles which are too serious to take lightly. Life is not a game.

     But you know something? I think silliness has its place.
I’ve had occasion to say it before, and I know for a fact that unless I die in my sleep tonight that I will be saying it again: A joyful heart is good medicine, and it always will be! Laughter is good for you! Myself, I enjoy it immensely and rather like to make a point of indulging in it regularly. Anna knows this, along with a large selection of deviously obtained facts about where I am ticklish, and very kindly makes sure to tickle me until I scream for mercy at least once a week. Aidan does too, bless his little heart. And although I do not ask for it and this routine effectively destroys any shred of dignity I had ever fooled myself into thinking I possessed, I think it’s good for me. Life is pretty darn depressing sometimes. It really is. People you thought were your friends turn their backs on you. Dogs die. Money raises problems. And there are things that are infinitely worse: Entire villages are raided and burned. People are murdered every day of the week. Beloved grandmothers die slowly of cancer. Sometimes it feels disrespectful or petty to be happy in the face of all the sorrow on this earth. Life is terribly, terribly tragic. We live in a sin-cursed world. It’s easy to be dark and gloomy sometimes.

     But if you only look…! If you only blow a few clouds away, there it is! The sunshine! You can close your eyes to it, stay shut up in your self-imposed cell of misery, but why would you? Great Scot, man! Celebrate the good things, for they are plentiful! It’s not wrong or disrespectful to be happy and goofy. Laughter is a gift from God because He loves us! Not that He just wants us to float around in our little pink bubbles of ignorant bliss all our lives. No. He wants us to have true joy in Him, to really appreciate the life we live and the Creator who graced us with it. And the best part is that it’s not all up to us. God doesn’t just present us with a plethora of unpleasant circumstances and tell us to make the best of it. He gives us reasons to be merry! Funny things happen: Today Amy choked half to death on a grape (it sounds cruel, but choking, if you’re not on the receiving end of it, is pretty darn hilarious) and Bess did a strange little dance for the purpose of scratching her back. And one mustn’t forget the Calvin Story! I'm only seventeen, but our family has had some pretty hard times. And in my experience, there is nearly always something to laugh about. You only have to look. And if you can't find something funny, why, then... make something funny!  It’s a good feeling to laugh until you cry, isn’t it? (Which is rather a strange thing because the physical symptoms of such a situation are remarkably akin to those of death by epilepsy. Red face, choking, convulsions, a complete absence of oxygen in the brain…) And another bonus about laughter is that it has deep roots in gratitude. Thankfulness produces merriment. If you truly appreciate all that God has gifted you with, you’ll show it! Those who are by nature more grave than others smile quietly to themselves; others burst into gales of elated hysterics. Different manifestations of the same joyful gratitude.

     Not to say that gravity is not something to strive for. Life, though it is bursting at the seams with hilarity, is still a serious thing. We oughtn’t be taking significant things lightly. There is a time to weep and a time to mourn. Sobriety, where it belongs, is enormously admirable. It says that you have the discipline to look at things as they really are. Cheerfulness is not wrong; frivolity is. We do live in a fallen, sin-cursed world in which we must be careful every moment to guard our minds against evil, but there is another side to the story: the good is still there! The world that God created is still full of joy and humor. You know something? I think God has a wonderful sense of humor. We are made in His image, after all, and we find things funny. We laugh. And so I will leave you with this and hope I could make you smile even a little.
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. -- Proverbs 15: 13

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