Laughter is not taught. It’s a part of us from birth.
Within a few months, long before they can talk, babies are laughing. It is contagious. Adults join in, folded in half with the laughter and joy of a giggling baby. The laughter of children on a playground is balm for the soul.
No other animal does this. It is a uniquely human quality that God has built into our psyche and soul. We’re not sure what triggers it. We can rarely predict when it will strike, but we know it’s contagious. When others laugh, we laugh – sometimes without any idea what caused it.
We like to be around others who are laughing. It’s therapeutic. When I think of my father, I think of him smiling, even though he’s been gone for decades. I know my wife talks to her sister on the phone by the way she smiles, even though they are a thousand miles apart.
We will pay huge sums for comedians and performers who can make us laugh. Television sitcoms invented this more than half a century ago. Original laugh tracks used for early TV sitcoms are still used to accentuate the humor of contemporary characters. Many of us still laugh with generations passing by.
But the best laugh is spontaneous.
Nothing is more exciting and uplifting to my soul than the laughter of my grandchildren. Our youngest are 11, nine and five. As they run out the door and jump into my arms laughing, any burdens I may have felt melt like snow in the sun and I am filled with laughter and joy.
When Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she said, “God has laughed at me; everyone who hears it laughs with me.” (Gen. 21:6).
Victory and celebration bring laughter. Just look at baseball, football and soccer teams achieving their goals. We’ve all laughed at weddings and graduations.
Psalm 126 refers to the joy of those who celebrated their return to Jerusalem after years of captivity: “When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with merry cheers.” (Psalm 126:1-2).
Maybe you haven’t laughed in a while. Perhaps you suffer from depression and loneliness. Do not be afraid. God will still fill your heart with laughter; like Sarah, who gave birth in her old age, after having endured decades of ridicule and sorrow; like the exiles of Jerusalem, who wept by the river Euphrates, far from their home.
God will still make your soul laugh. You will rejoice.
The Christian faith is a joyful faith, even in difficult and adverse circumstances. “You are cheering all over the earth. Serve the Lord with joy. Come into His presence with joyful singing!” (Psalm 100). “The crying may last all night, but in the morning comes a cry of joy!” (Psalm 30:5).
God delights in our laughter as mothers and fathers delight in the laughter of their children. He wants to fill your heart with joy.
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experiences from a faith perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email email@example.com.