Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Laughter - What is the Biblical Ideal?

I would like to thank Burning Bush for bringing this to my attention - this idea of the biblical approach to laughter. It really gave me something to think about.

Luke 6:21-25 mentions laughter as the antithesis of mourning/weeping 2X in a matter of a few verses - making one ponder what ideal is being taught there. Is laughter a bad thing? I don't think so.

I think the verses reitterate an obvious idea about dealing with our pain/hurts in our own lives - so that we can laugh again (have joy in our lives). The teaching is this:

(a) If you do not deal with your pain (and the seriousness thereof) and hide behind laughter - later on you when it all wears down - you will weep/mourn for the state of affairs you might be found in.

(b) If you deal with your pain/hurts (face them head on) at some point you will heal - and later on you will be able to enjoy life and have joy/laughter/gladness.

Laughter is not a bad thing. Actually, I find it one of the greatest human traits we share one with another (can put a smile on our face). I am reminded of a few biblical examples:

(1) In Gen 21:5-7 Sara names her son Isaac (which means laughter). She attributes her laughter to God and thinks people will laugh with her - for this birth at such an age. Sara see's her laughter as a great thing (names her son it).

(2) Psalm 126:1-3 talks about laughter in a similar fashion as I see in the Luke verses. We see the captives are freed and this erupts in ideas of joy, laughter, and gladness. I see this as the same idea about dealing with our pain, getting healed (freed), then we are free to have the joy we desire.

(3) Ecclesiastes 3:4 mentions the idea - where Luke would of framed the teaching from about Jesus - since it so similar. Solomon says there is 'a time to weep and time to laugh' (there is a time for everything). Laughter is not seen as bad here - but in the right context - can be seen as something healthy - a part of normal life. Again weeping is the antithesis of laughter.

I think laughter is a great gift we have been given - and we share it with one another. Yes we must mourn and weep (deal with pain) but we also can heal and have joy - laughter is an expression of that. I think if we laughed a little more and were a little less serious - think of the ramifications on one's life. We might just find we are 'happy' after all?

5 comments:

BrotherKen said...

Laughter is a natural and wonderful thing. You only need to see a cute baby giggling to know that. I believe it has been determined that laughter will actually help you regain you health.

Yet laughter is not always natural and good. It can become a mechanism to hide ones true feelings. Laughter can actually be quite annoying if it is contrived. Then there is satire which isn't everyones cup of tea. "Holy laughter" is practiced in some churches, look that one up and I think you will find that just whacko.

I guess the appropriateness of laughter is situational. It's an emotion, and like all emotions we must try to have some control. We must take into consideration those around us. But when the situation is right, whether the laughter is between two or two thousand, it sure does a body good!

P.S. I don't know if I will be able to stand when I meet the Lord face to face, but if I can I think I will have a great big smile on my face.

the_burning_bush said...

Indeed, laughter is not bad per se. Jesus says those who mourn will be blessed (which can also be translated happy) because they will laugh.

My emphasis is the way laughter relates to death. In the moment where one is about to die (and indeed death waits for all of us), will one find it significant to remember a clever joke? I don't think I will be able to find any such consolation.

But to examine the way we will pass away (which is perhaps part of Ken's attitude when he refers to the moment he sees the Lord) and to look back at the sorrows we faced ... and to laugh ... that does seem to be a joyous thing indeed.

How few people laugh in that way!

BrotherKen said...

BB

I never thought to relate laughter to death. I guess you could do that somehow, but I don't see it. I see laughter as an opposite to sorrow, grief and pain. God knows there is enough of that going around.

There is a time to grieve and there is a time to have joy. Our heart can be close to the Lord at all times.

chris said...

I don't mean to break into a good discussion here, but I have seen "holy laughter" at work! It was nothing but disruptive! On the other hand, I think laughter is great, and I practice it as often as I can!!!

SocietyVs said...

Laughter is the best medicine someone once said...it's fairly good medicine anyways.