Do you ever find yourself hard at work on some task when all of a sudden a funny memory from the past comes back to you and you can’t help it but grin while trying desperately to hold back the laughter? This happens to me more frequently than I care to say. Just yesterday my mind went back to a funny little incident of my teenage years. My sisters and I had been rehearsing a Christmas song to be performed at the church’s Christmas program. We had worked so hard with our music director and the song sounded great! Problem is when we actually performed the song, for reasons I have yet to understand, we got the giggles. It got so bad that the four of us busted out laughing hysterically in the middle of our performance. It was so embarrassing to my parents…but so hilarious! Every time I remember that moment, I cannot help but laugh out loud.
Laughter is healthy for the soul. There are even studies that confirm it. I’ve often heard people say, “If you laugh more often about your circumstances, you will live longer.” I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that life looks better when I am with optimistic, happy people who through adversity yet choose to live a joyous life. My late pastor, John Colbaugh, comes to mind. I don’t know that I have ever met a more content person. He was always full of joy, regardless of the fact his body was eaten up with cancer. Two weeks before his passing, he was preaching and greeting people and loving his congregation. He was just such a great example of a life that is full of the joy of the Lord. His joy was contagious!
I love meeting people who are positive and strong in spirit. Unfortunately for you and me, the world is full of pessimists and killjoy people who would drag us down and make us doubt where our strength comes from. If there is something that the enemy is good at, it is discouraging people. I suppose he figures, if we are discouraged, we will become distant from God, and at that point we become easy prey. Discouragement can kill your relationship with God quicker than anything else. That is why Christ, during his ministry on earth, continually pointed everyone to the Father as the source of hope and joy. With comments like: “I came to give life and life abundantly” or “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the father but through me…” Jesus is life and life is not supposed to be sad and depressing. Not a life with Christ, that is.
Many times we get so distracted by our problems that we tend to forget who is our source of joy. I recently re-read, The Book of God by Walter Wangerin, Jr. I’ve read it at least three times and at times I still go back to a certain chapter because I find it extremely inspiring. For those who have not read it, it is a portrait of the Bible as a novel. It does not go through the entire Bible but it takes some of the stories in the Bible and tells the story all over again in a poetic and creative way. There is one story I enjoyed very much and thought about while writing about joy. King Saul had already been rejected by God for his disobedience and cold heart, and now David comes in the picture as a young teenager boy who is prepared to face Goliath, the giant. Of course, Saul is full of despair and fear; there is no trace of the confidence and strength of the Spirit in him. His soul has grown hard and cold. David defeats the giant, and in his beautiful writing style, Walter Wangerin writes: “and Saul laughed! He laughed as he did in the old days when the Spirit of God was with him.” What happened to Saul? He remembered what joy felt like. That’s what many of us need today, to remember what joy feels like and to allow joy to flood our hearts with laughter once again.
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