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October 2008

Laughter

Laughter is Good Medicine

Classifieds: Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica for sale. Thirty-two volumes. $500 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last month, and quickly discovered wife knows everything!

Do you know what the word GELOTOLOGY means? I didn't until this week. It is the study of humor and laughter and it's psychological and physiological effects on the human body.

We have all heard that laughter is good for our health. When we laugh heartily, changes occur in many parts of the body which helps to defuse some of the stressful effects of our living in today's fast paced world.

This week I read some of the ways it helps us: 1. It can stimulate the immune system. 2. It can increase natural painkillers in the blood. 3. It is an excellent tool for social bonding. It makes people closer and stronger by uniting them and helping them cope in times of adversity. 4. Laughter also helps to improve our creativity and memory. In the process, our sense of well-being improves significantly.

Some of us were fortunate enough to grow up in homes where laughter was in good supply. Some of us however grew up in not so happy circumstances, and we are the more serious types. While we probably help balance each other out, doctors tell us it's a good thing not to take ourselves too seriously. It's a healthy thing to be able to laugh at ourselves, to laugh at good clean jokes, and also to laugh WITH people, but never AT people.

While I am not advocating 'flippantancy', I do believe God has an extremely good sense of humor. Just look at the giraffe and so many of the animals. Look in the mirror in the morning at ourselves before we've combed our hair.

Why did God give us two funny bones? And why did He give us the ability to laugh? Besides being good for our overall health, humor and laughter makes the often rough and rugged road of life a little easier and a little more pleasurable. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, 'There is a time to weep and a time to laugh'. Psalm 126:2,3 reads, 'We celebrated with laughter and joyful songs, because the Lord has worked miracles for His people'. Proverbs 17:22, 'A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones'.

While humor and laughter is healthy for us, I can hear someone saying, "At present, I cannot find anything funny or joyful in life". Perhaps you have just lost a loved one, perhaps you feel lonely and lost, perhaps you have lost your home, or you have just been told you have a very serious illness.

The apostle Paul said that he had learned to be content in any circumstances. I wish I could say that I have learned that lesson as well as he had; however, there is one text that always gives me great hope, joy and comfort. It is found in Nehemiah 8:10, 'The joy of the Lord is my strength'. The context here tells us the people were sorrowful because of their sins but they could still be joyful, because God had forgiven them. That's something we need to be mindful of at all times, yes, we are great sinners, but Christ is a greater Savior!

This teaches us that while we might not always feel like laughing, or even smiling because of certain trials we're going through, we can always have true joy in our hearts. We rejoice in God as our Creator and Redeemer.

While daily walking with God does not avoid problems, it does avoid despair. When we accept Christ, we are adopted into His family, and just as an earthly adoption brings all the family benefits with it, so it is with Christ's family. All the glorious promises are ours. Promises like this one found in Isaiah. 26; "God will keep us in perfect peace as long as our minds are stayed on Him."

He gives us peace and joy by daily fellowshipping with Him through His word and prayer. We have His promise that one day there will be an end to all sin and suffering, on the day Jesus comes and takes us home to His Kingdom.

All these truths and promises give us peace and joy, which in turn gives us the strength to face each day and whatever challenges they bring. The latter part of Nehemiah 8:10 reads, "For this day--and every day-- is special unto our Lord: neither be ye sad, for the joy of the Lord is our strength!"

Dear Father in Heaven, Thank you for the wonderful gift of 'joy', which allows us to look past pessimism and hard times with the knowledge that in the end everything is going to turn out okay. Help us to look for the humorous situations in life. Thank You for being our JOY! In Jesus name, Amen.

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