July 1, 2022

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.—Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

Dried up bones . . . yikes!

I was at a standstill in Seattle rush hour traffic. Another yikes. Driving back to my hotel after attending a conference on “The Healing Power of Laughter & Play,” I reflected on what I had heard and experienced earlier in the day. This was the perfect opportunity to apply what I had learned about the benefits of laughter and play, not the least of which was reduced stress.

As I sat in my Camry, I massaged my neck, trying to knead out the knots of the traffic jam and thought about what the presenter had said. “You don’t need a reason to laugh. Your body doesn’t know the difference between laughing at something funny or laughing just for the health of it. But the outcome is the same, regardless.”

Laughter is Good Medicine

Okay, let’s see if this works.

I forced air up from within and out past my lips. It felt forced, contrived. There simply was nothing funny about my stuck situation.

Okay, since I can’t change the external, I’ll see what I can do to change my internal stress.

I manufactured another laugh, then another. Each time louder and harder.

I noticed drivers on either side of my car looking askance at me. I didn’t care. Maybe that’s one of the joys of laughter. 

I continued to laugh and soon was in a belly roll. Did I see the humor in my situation? No. But did I feel more relaxed and at ease? Yes. Yay!

Moving forward to the present . . . Having been “stuck” in our recent pandemic, it’s way past time to laugh, play, and enjoy each day to cultivate our health.

In the verse above, God links two parts of the body—heart and bones. The heart pumps our life blood, and our bones support us. Can we deduce from this verse, that in order for our bones to help us stand and move about—to do their job—we need cheer or merriment in our lives? In this blog I make the connection. Stay with me here.

Another verse that speaks of bones is Proverbs 16:24:

“Pleasant words are honeycomb—sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (TLV)

I did a word-meaning search for pleasant and found the following synonyms:  Amusing, enjoyable, cheery, good-humored.

Taking all of this into consideration, I believe God designed laughter to heal and to help us stay healthy.

So, let me see if I can generate at least a titter from you from a posting in a Naponee, Ne. Wesleyan Church newsletter.

A preacher was completing a temperance sermon. He punched his fist in the air and said, “I’d throw all the beer in the world into the river.” With even greater gusto, he exclaimed, “I’d empty all the wine in the world into the river.” Finally he shouted, “And I’d dump all the whiskey in the world into the river.” The song leader, by now whipped into a frenzy, jumped up and cried, “Please join me in singing Hymn #356, “Shall We Gather at the River.”

Why is laughter so important to God’s design of our bodies?

Scientific studies show that every body function is affected by laughter.

In addition to physiological benefits, psychological advantages abound as well.

Laughter:

  • Reduces tension.
  • Distracts attention from discomfort.
  • Changes expectations by looking at things through a different perspective. I.e. laughter helps us see things as less threatening.
  • Increases feelings of self-esteem.
  • Provides a buffer, giving time for us to come to terms with situations.

In his book, Laughter in Hell, the Use of Humor During the Holocaust, Steve Lipman cites Jews who used not only prayer but humor, revealing that humor proved to be their:

  • Pleasant spice
  • Spiritual resistance from oppression
  • A diversion
  • A shield
  • Twists on reality
  • A morale booster
  • A weapon of inner resistance
  • A release from the paralysis of fear
  • A reversal of the role of oppressor and oppressed (When you laugh, “that thing” no longer controls you. You control it.)
  • The currency of hope

Proverbs 31:25 speaks of a wife of noble character, one who is “. . . clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Ecclesiastes chapter 3:4 tells us there is “A time to weep and a time to laugh.”

It is time to build more laughter into our days. Especially in the face of adversity. In short, we need to laugh at the daunting, the overwhelming, and the discouraging things we encounter.

“God will provide a way out so we can stand up under it.”1 Corinthians 10:13  (Berean Study Bible)

Of course, God provides many ways we can avoid discouragement, hopelessness, anger, and more. Escape routes God provides are prayer, praising Him, forgiving, turning our eyes upon Jesus, etc. But, He also gifted us with laughter as a way out so we can stand up under negative things.

Back to Proverbs 17:22’s bones as related to health.

Do you think we can go so far as to make the connection of laughter providing for healthy bones so we can “stand up under” slipping into depression, taking offense, etc.?

I honestly believe when we get to heaven we’ll be astounded at the meanings of scripture verses and how interrelated they are beyond what our earthly eyes and minds have conceived.

If God designed such physiological, psychological, and spiritual benefits of laughter, why don’t we laugh more often?

It may be that we are “socialized” out of it as a result of comments such as:

  • Wipe that smile off your face.
  • This is no laughing matter.
  • So you think this is funny, do you?
  • People are looking at you.
  • Perhaps we don’t laugh as often as we did as children because of hurtful laughter we experienced.

Babies laugh before they “have a reason to.” In essence, we can laugh for no reason. In doing so, we will reap a plethora of benefits.

That said, let’s get to laughing—whether or not you think the following are funny.

From the Franklin County Chronicle:

She said she missed me. Normally that would be good, but she’s reloading.

If you’re sitting in public and a stranger sits next to you, stare straight ahead and ask, “Did you bring the money?”

When someone asks what you did over the weekend, squint and ask, “Why, what did you hear?”

Church bulletins blunders are a great source to tap into. Even if you have heard these before, treat yourself to a chuckle.

  • Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.
  • Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.
  • During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon from J.F. Stubbs
  • The class on prophecy has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Children’s insights offer a wonderful wealth of opportunities to laugh.

  • Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.
  • The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.
  • Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

Children’s experiences in church . . .

A little boy was overheard praying: “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.”

After christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home. His father asked him what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, “That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys.”

Finding one of her students making faces at others, Ms. Smith said, “Bobby, when I was a child, I was told that if I made ugly faces, it would freeze and I would stay like that.”
Bobby looked up and replied, “Well, Ms. Smith, you can’t say you weren’t warned.”

A woman invited people to dinner. At the table, she asked her six-year-old daughter to say the blessing. “I don’t know what to say,” the girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say.” The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Children in school . . .

A 1st Grade Teacher presents her classroom the 1st half of a well-known proverb and asked the six-year-olds to complete it. Here are some answers:

An idle mind is …………………………………….. the best way to relax.

There are none so blind as ………………………Stevie Wonder.

When the blind lead the blind …………………get out of the way.

FOR FURTHER ENJOYMENT:

  • Go fly a kite   
  • Blow soap bubbles.  
  • Blow bubble gum bubbles. Have a contest to see who can blow the biggest. 
  • Skip in a parking lot. (I do this from time to time. It brings smiles to others.)
  • Check out Christian comedienne, Chonda Pierce on YouTube.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for blessing me with laughter. Please help me freely enjoy this treat.

Thought For The Day:  Laugh and play. Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.