One word ushers in an avalanche of emotions, opinions and convictions.
Today, one word silences a room and divides people.
People everywhere are weary, confused and hurting. Laughing seems like a lavish luxury we cannot afford, but oh how we need it.
In the days following Beirut and Paris, my young daughter persisted in her silliness and won me over to belly laughter. I’ve been glued to the latest news about the world unfolding before our eyes and unusually frustrated by knee jerk responses on social media, but I set those weights down on my mental docking bay and geared into laughter.
It had been too long since I last laughed like that and it felt good. Three feet of sunshine showed me how desperately I needed laughter to surge through my body. But the talons of lament, sorrow and desire for justice pull me back, unwilling to let go.
“Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can’t find a foothold.
I am in deep water,
and the floods overwhelm me.
3 I am exhausted from crying for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping,
waiting for my God to help me.
Psalm 69: 2-3
Waiting in the midst of a quickly eroding world is troubling and heartbreaking. I find myself overwhelmed, much like King David in this Psalm. When my eyes focus on current events, my faith is challenged and laughter seems a luxury I cannot afford.
Paul’s words to “…mourn with those who mourn” ring in my ears (Romans 12:15b). It seems to do anything more than mourn and pray would diminish the sorrow in the world and deny the voices of human suffering an audience and hope. Yes, laughter seems a luxury I cannot afford.
But as I forage for hope in my bible I am told another story. I am told of hope well beyond my means and comfort impossible for humans to give. Time and again the word “Rejoice!” glared from the page. My heart leaned over and wondered if I risk a further look, but the markings on the familiar pages remind me, I’ve been here before. Every section in my bible unearths hope and a reason to rejoice, a reason to live lightly and dare to laugh.
Jesus gives me ample reason to set my bags down.
“Come to Me, ALL you who labor and are heavy laden, and I WILL give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Freshly reading Romans 12:15a I realize I’ve glossed over the first half of the verse. There is an order to rejoicing and mourning. (So much for being an optimist.)
What good is it to take an already morose heart to the mourning and how does that demonstrate the ultimate hope we share? We must first lift our eyes toward our Lord enthroned in heaven (Psalm 123:1).
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” Philippians 4:4
This doesn’t mean we’re always chipper people (that’s not what joy is). If we are overcome by the state of the world it is impossible to bring glory to God. The initial hope of salvation fizzles and is overwhelmed by the unavoidable chaos of this world when we look for hope among the mortal.
Studying Revelation I am reminded that the gospel doesn’t stop at the cross, it stops when Jesus conquers Satan once and for all. We have hope; a reason to rejoice because we know there is an end to the madness. Remember, our days are numbered so…
“Praise the LORD, O my soul! While I live I WILL praise the LORD; I WILL sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 146:1-2
This side of Jesus the world will never rest peacefully, but does that mean we need to never laugh, to resolve ourselves to solemn? When I picture Jesus with the disciples and in His ministry, I see care, enjoyment and delight as Jesus interacted with His creation. Despite resistance and persecution I see laughter in His eyes when children approach.
“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind, the LORD raises those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; but the way of the wicked He turns upside down. The LORD shall reign forever- Your God, O Zion, to all generations. PRAISE THE LORD!” Psalm 146:5-10
Despite a troubling world, we are called to praise, thank and bring our loving Lord glory. Our God is mighty (re-read the above verse). HE is in control. It’s okay, we can laugh just as we can mourn.
Post Script: I cut nearly seven hundred words from this piece. There are so many components determined by individual interpretation of words like praise, joy. This isn’t a topic that nine hundred words can do justice to, but I hope it encourages you to pillage through your bible and encounter the Giver of Hope.
Photo Credit/Story featured image: The title of this photo is “Does Anybody Remember to Laugh?”. Perfect composition and title to go with what I was writing on! Photo credit: Antimidia / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
Woman resting on bible: HERE