Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

A Time to Laugh

There is “a time to weep and a time to laugh” (Eccl 3:4). This is an important realization for the child of God. Weeping and laughter both have their place. We often talk about dealing with heartache, pain, and recognize the place that weeping plays, but what about laughter?

Is it a stretch to say that we need a sense of humor? Do we ever laugh at ourselves? Do we find circumstances in life sometimes to be humorous? Perhaps we’ll just laugh about that later. Humor often comes naturally. Children love to play and laugh. When he was three, my grandson would come to me, rub his belly, and say, “Big tickle?” He wanted to laugh, and I would usually oblige. As children grow, telling jokes becomes part of children’s conversations, however silly they may be. Humor and laughter are simply a part of who we are as humans. Perhaps even this aspect of our nature is a reflection of our God, for He built it into us.

Some of us (myself included) seem pretty serious a good bit of the time.  I know that my sense of humor can be dry at times, and sometimes it’s fun to keep people guessing (don’t judge). On the other hand, there are the ridiculous moments. My poor kids grew up with many “groaners”—the puns, the ludicrous etymologies, the chicken voice songs… don’t ask. Seriously. Laughing with my children was always important to me.

In the middle of all the difficulties and trials, laughter still has a place. “When a face is sad a heart may be happy” (Eccl 7:3). Sorrow is also good for the soul, but those who sorrow can sometimes find a happy heart. Families gathering at a funeral for a loved one will often laugh about humorous moments as they reminisce together. This does a heart good. Here the time to weep and the time to laugh aren’t far removed from each other and may be part of the same occasion.

When the peculiarities and problems of life get us down, God has built into us a way to help relieve stress and pressure. We don’t want to laugh at inappropriate times, but we shouldn’t shun laughter altogether. Too much avoidance of laughter may have the effect of furthering a broken spirit. “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Prov 15:13).

Laughter does not mean that the one who is able to laugh is making light of the difficulties and problems of this world. We understand that “even in laughter the heart may be in pain” (Prov 14:13), but that doesn’t negate the fact that laughter can be good medicine. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22). A heart can be joyful when not laughing, but laughter can be a sign of a joyful heart. The point is that it’s good for us from time to time to let loose a good laugh. Once in a while, it does us good to have one of those all-out howling, fall on the floor, lose our breath kind of laughs. It may not be pretty, but … it’s funny. Sometimes we may even start laughing just because others are laughing. It doesn’t have to make sense. We may just need to laugh, and that’s okay. Go ahead.

We do need to be careful with what we laugh about. There is a great deal of worldly humor out there that is not fit for the children of God. Good, clean humor can be difficult to come by, and this is lamentable. We must be discerning because the world won’t be. Yet humor doesn’t necessarily need to come from outside sources like tv shows and professional comedians. Normal life has enough humorous moments if we are willing to lighten up a little, not take ourselves so seriously all the time, and laugh at ourselves when we create our own awkward situations. We surely don’t want to laugh at the expense of another’s feelings; we should never laugh at someone, particular in mockery or in violation of treating others as we would want to be treated (Matt 7:12). If we show that we can laugh at ourselves, however, we are showing good character. Taking ourselves too seriously all the time can be a sign of pride and conceit, and we can easily become bitter, angry, disgruntled people in the process.

Balance is key. Those who find everything funny can be difficult because they rarely wish to think about serious matters, but those who never find anything humorous may not be very encouraging. A good, clean sense of humor will go a long way in both helping ourselves through a hard world and in encouraging others. Sharing a good laugh with another will make for some priceless moments and wonderful memories. Don’t neglect the “time to laugh.” God has made us to enjoy laughter at appropriate times.