Go Ahead and Laugh!

jhardy

When certain things happen you just know it’s going to be a very difficult day:

When your sister forgets your birthday… and you’re twins.

When your husband is introducing you to a friend from work and temporarily can’t remember your name.

When you arrive at work only to have your boss tell you to not waste time taking off your coat.

When that bird singing outside your window turns out to be a buzzard.

When you see a “60 Minutes” news team waiting for you in your office.

When your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.

Not very funny? Okay, maybe these snippets taken from different church bulletins will tickle your funny bone:

Don’t let worry kill you…let the church help!

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the fellowship hall. Music will follow.

Weight Watchers will meet @ 7 PM at First Church. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance.

The Reverend Adams spoke briefly, much to the delight of his audience.

This evening @ 6 PM there will be a hymn sing in the park across from our church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

At the beginning of our service, ushers will eat newcomers.

And finally, ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale this weekend. It is a good time to get rid of all those things around the house not worth keeping. Bring your husbands.

Now before you think I’ve lost my mind, there is a good reason why I’ve chosen to include such things in my post this week. I hope at least one of these little gems elicited a giggle or two from you because laughter is a gift from God and it’s one thing we all should do more of. As a parent there are few sounds more precious to me than the sound of my kids or my grand kids laughing. I’m smiling now just thinking about it. There’s no doubt, when done in appropriate ways and in response to appropriate things, there is nothing that brings more honest joy to our lives than righteous laughter does.

Thousands of years ago God inspired these words found in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good like a medicine”, and our modern wisdom has confirmed the truth of these immortal words. Yes, laughter truly is like medicine to our souls. The health benefits to the one who laughs are many; it reduces our blood pressure, releases stress-reducing hormones, stimulates our immune system to better defend against illness, increases our ability to remember things, and boosts our intelligence and our creativity. And when we laugh in good-natured ways it can make the ones around us laugh as well, or at the very least, make them stop and smile. Laughter can distract us just when we’re ready to give up and it can strengthen us, rebooting us to face another day. I know this to be true because I’ve lived it.

When my husband and I were first married I struggled with infertility. I had one miscarriage and then, after a long time, God gave us our precious daughter, Jessica. We were so happy and wanted to add to our little family so once again we waded into the deep waters of infertility treatments. About this time, I was finally diagnosed with Endometriosis and I knew that probably was the reason why we were having such trouble conceiving. But after many months of treatments we finally got the answer we had been hoping for: we were pregnant!

We were beyond happy and began dreaming about who this little one would be. Oh, in my happy imagination I had our baby named and in college already… but it wasn’t meant to be. When the bleeding and cramps began we prayed so hard this baby would be okay but once again, our hopes were dashed into tiny pieces. After a time of healing we began the infertility process once more and after a long time God again gave us the gift of life: our son, John. But this journey wasn’t going to be as we had expected either.

At 20 weeks I began having symptoms and I was diagnosed with pre-term labor. If our son had been born at that level of development he likely would have died or would have had severe, life-altering issues to deal with. After trying all kinds of things without success the doctor finally placed me on full bedrest. I had a tocolytic service that monitored my contractions, with a subcutaneous pump dispensing medication around the clock. Needless to say, between dealing with the side effects of the medication and worrying about whether our son was going to be healthy, it was a very stressful time for us both… a time that pressed our faith like never before.

In the middle of all of this God kept challenging us to keep our eyes on Him and to trust His heart so our faith grew as a result. Thankfully, after much difficulty, John came into the world at a full 38 weeks, healthy and happy. But as hard as those 3 months in bed were, to this day I still have wonderful memories of my then 4 ½ year old daughter crawling up every day at 4 PM, onto the living room sofa bed that had become my temporary home. In the middle of everything that was going on we’d take an hour to snuggle on the bed and watch “Inspector Gadget” and “I Love Lucy” together. Oh, we’d laugh and laugh, sometimes so hard we couldn’t even speak. To the best of my memory, we never missed one “date” together, 5 days a week, week after week, for those 3 long months.

Those precious moments, laughing together with my daughter, I will treasure always in my heart. They were truly like medicine to my soul and I’m convinced God used every giggle, snort, and belly laugh to ensure the healthy birth of our son more than all the tocolytic medication in the world could ever do.

Now obviously, there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, as we’re told in Ecclesiastes 3:4. Today, if you’re going through the emotional wringer and can’t imagine how in the world you’ll ever laugh again, then take heart and don’t lose hope. I pray that in the middle of whatever it is you’re facing, you’ll find the good heart of Jesus to be enough for you. Let Him hold you together when you feel like you’re falling apart. Allow His peace to rule in your heart and trust Him… because He knows exactly what you’re going through and will never leave you to face it alone. Never let Satan tell you otherwise. And in time, the dark clouds will lift and the sun will shine again.

Today, whether we’re going through the emotional storm or enjoying a sunny weather break, may we all find the strength and courage to laugh out loud, as often as we possibly can.