The Gift of God-Honoring Laughter


Laughter is one of God’s many gifts that is a powerful tool to fight despair.

For everything there is a season, and a time to for every matter under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).

Nanci and I laugh together every day, often hilariously. Sometimes we can’t stop. When our now-grown girls were young, there was always a lot of giggling and laughing and carrying on at the dinner table, and Nanci and I were in the thick of it. When we’re with our grandsons, we’re always looking for the next laugh. Not laughter at another’s expense, though there’s lots of good-natured kidding, but the kind of laughter that draws people together. The friendships we enjoy most, like with our friends Steve and Sue Keels, are the ones where we really laugh together. Those kinds of friendships are worth seeking out and preserving.

Norman Cousins gives an amazing account of laughter’s therapeutic value in his book Anatomy of an Illness. Diagnosed with an untreatable terminal disease, Cousins determined to cultivate a positive frame of mind. Part of that came from watching old Marx Brothers movies and reruns of Candid Camera. Eventually his disease subsided, his health returned, and Cousins is convinced it was his laughter and sustained focus on the bright side that brought about his healing.

Martin Luther said, “You have as much laughter as you have faith.” We’ve found that the ability to be lighthearted helps us work through many heavy and difficult situations without burning out or losing our perspective. Humor is our release, our safety valve. Laughter relieves tension and breaks down barriers. Laughter is therapeutic. It is medicinal. It heals. It gives hope.

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

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed” (Proverbs 15:13).

When it comes to laughter, we love listening to Brian Regan, our favorite comedian. Several years ago on Nanci's birthday we went to Portland to hear him live. Nanci heard him live another time with one of our daughters. We love Brian’s humor, and he keeps it clean, which is refreshing. (The reason we don't watch most otherwise funny comedians is that to laugh at what dishonors God is to dishonor God).


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