From the Preacher’s Pen… As we continue our look at several of God’s gifts to us as human beings, remember what we’ve already seen. The gift of labor helps us to find value even as we grow and learn. Friendship teaches us to be a part of a team that we might accomplish more together than separately. The gift of money teaches us what we may accomplish in doing for and helping others rather than selfishly doing only for ourselves. The gift of family gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly relationship envisioned by God for His people. The gift of gratitude helps us to be truly thankful and enables us to count our blessings as we realize how rich and numerous they really are.
Now let’s consider a gift that helps us begin to appreciate God’s own true joy…
The Gift of Laughter
I hope you find this hard to believe, but some years ago a study was done to see what pictures of Jesus were most offensive to people. Now realize that this study left out the obviously offensive actions and concentrated on things that we know He actually participated in. For example, there were several images of people with various diseases and many were, as the disease really is, disgusting things to look at. But, of course, those were things that Jesus dealt with in real life.
Overlooking the obvious lack of ANY real pictures of Jesus and what He looked like, in images of Jesus doing things throughout His teaching ministry, what did people find most offensive? The answer is pictures of Jesus laughing! Somehow as human beings made in the image of God, we find it hard to believe that God actually both smiles and has a sense of humor!
The old saying that “he who laughs last, laughs best” is especially true of God. And one of the best examples is found in the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham laughed at God telling of a promised son when he was already 100 years old (Genesis 17:17). When the Lord later confirmed the promise and Sarah overheard, she, too, laughed (Genesis 18:12). In fact, she was embarrassed at being caught laughing (Genesis 18:13-15).
But the best laugh belongs to God as it all comes to pass and the son is named “God laughs” or Isaac. Of course, Sarah joins in and laughs at the fulfillment of the promise by her God (Genesis 21:1-6).
God also laughs, derisively, at those who oppose Him, He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2:4). And that is fitting for those who imagine that God is unimportant, unreal or simply powerless.
But above all, God gives us laughter and joy that we might learn and appreciate all His blessings. Solomon reminds us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4a). And while many laughed at Jesus (cf. Matthew 9:24), He was the one that reminded His people that they would, like God, laugh last and best (cf. Luke 6:21-25).
Jesus said that His very reason for coming to the earth, unlike the false prophets, was for His people to have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). And that abundant life is illustrated in our joy, our laughter with our Savior.
Nearly every usage of the word “joy” in the New Testament is in reference to Christians. In Acts 13:52 we learn that the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Christians always have much to smile and laugh about!
Indeed, one of the fruits or evidences of God’s presence in our lives is joy (Galatians 5:22). We, of all people, have the best reason to be truly happy. And, as the children’s song says, if you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
May we see and appreciate the true joys that God has blessed us with, both in this life and the life to come. May we share the beauty of God’s gift on our faces and in our lives!
— Lester P. Bagley