I had a dream that I was a muffler last night. I woke up exhausted!
Q: What do you call a fake noodle?
A: An Impasta
Q: Why did the scarecrow win an award?
A: Because he was outstanding in his field.
Q: Where did the one-legged waitress work?
If a child doesn’t want to take a nap, is he resisting a rest?
Q: Where do you learn to make banana splits?
A: At sundae school.
Q: How can you tell the ocean is friendly?
A: It waves.
It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh. Do you remember times when you have begun to really laugh so hard at something and simply can’t regain control and just keep laughing? Have you ever laughed so hard that your whole body starts to ache? There are times I’ve spent amongst friends where laughter has gone on for so long that my cheeks hurt, my chest aches, and I get a stitch in my side from laughing so hard. I want to stop laughing for relief, but I also want to keep right on laughing because it feels so good as well.
Who would think that so much discomfort would come from something so good?
I guess that’s why they call it ‘sidesplitting laughter.’ And when the laughing has finally stopped, I will always grip my side and say something like, ‘I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.’ And although that may be true, I’ll already start anticipating the moment when I will laugh that hard all over again.
Perhaps you are thinking that it’s been a while since you laughed like that . . . perhaps even too long.
There are times in our lives where it seems like we have a laughter drought.
Life can get serious and times can be tough but once that drought breaks, you realize just how much you have been missing. “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. … The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Ps. 126:2 – 3). This is re-echoed when Job’s friend in Job 8:21 gives him the hope that God “will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” His friend is truly giving him something to look forward to.
Even when we are going through deep valleys, if we are able to find some humor, then life seems a little brighter. This gift of laughter is a true gift that we often downplay. If we were to add more laughter to our days, our attitude would immediately change for the better, and our future would seem brighter.
Karl Barth has said: “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.”
Laughter can change and grow, and sometimes it changes and grows us. Consider the laughter of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, blossoming from incredulity into incredible joy – a scoffing laugh that in her old age she would bear a child to the laughter of sheer joy. When Sarah had a baby at long, impossible last, she named him Isaac — which means, of course, “laughter.”
Ann Lamott says in Plan B that “laughter is carbonated holiness.”
Laughter is part of the life of God, and that to laugh from your belly is to worship the Giver of all good gifts.
Think of those times our Lord must have laughed during his time on earth. Now it’s true; nowhere in Scripture do we have a specific record of Christ laughing. We do know that he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). But also that he is anointed with “the oil of gladness” beyond his companions (Hebrews 1:9). It is more than reasonable to assume that the happiest person in the universe often boiled over with the best of laughter.
Jesus was the very embodiment of love. He was filled with God’s Spirit, who produces the fruit of joy (Galatians 5:22). I imagine that he and his disciples roared in some good times of belly-aching, room-rocking laughter in their collective joy. I can imagine times with his disciples, times in the home of Mary and Martha where he felt so comfortable and cared for.
Is there true friendship without sharing laughter? Without enjoying the gift of each other? If all things were made through and for Christ, that must include the joys of relationships, of friendships — of happiness shared in laughter!
These joys are such a significant part of the human experience that it would be odd, perhaps even sinful, for the Lord, who “put on our feelings along with our flesh,” as John Calvin says, to have passed over them. Therefore, the joy of Christ — and thus our joy — is serious business with eternal costs.
So it’s right and useful to consider the ways his joy was expressed while among us. Perhaps because the gospel writers knew Jesus’ laughing would be so obvious a reality, they needn’t bother mentioning it. Or perhaps their eyes were so set on Calvary that they dare not make the gospel vignettes seem trite. But that they did not record it all, John makes plain in striking terms: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30).
It’s serious business, laughter. It’s the kind of sacrifice of praise that puts our insides right. The old cliché is true: Laughter is a medicine that reminds us that our sickness will one day be healed, and we shall be whole and holy. Until then, laughter is the Elmer’s Glue that attaches us to the goodness that inhabits this world and to the gladness that hints at the world to come.
When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why. The Mayo Clinic Staff have said that whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke. A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
A good laugh has significant short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally. It induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs.
- Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling. Laughter soothes tension.
- Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
To me, this is all further evidence that laughter is God-ordained and that the Father’s wants it for us in our lives.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you’ve had your chuckle, take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work.
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road halfway?
A: She wanted to lay it on the line.
A police recruit was asked during the exam, “What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?”
He said, “Call for backup.”
Q: Why don’t oysters give to charity?
A: Because they’re shellfish.
Here’s a bit of wisdom from Woody Allen: “I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”
Hopefully, you’re at least smiling by now. So go on—start laughing more!
Lord, thank you for the gift of laughter. I couldn’t imagine how dreary life would be without it. May we have the confidence to laugh at ourselves and the blessing of laughing with others. Amen.
written by Lt. Colonel Sandra Jackson, Program Secretary, USA East