A Laugh a Day
- August 08, 2016
- Josh Godwin
Everybody loves to laugh. If you don’t love to laugh, chances are you’re lying to everyone around you. Along with breathing, and for some weird reason surviving in water, babies are born knowing how to laugh at the right moment. They don’t have to be taught when to giggle or smile, it’s just something that they do.
I love watching people laugh, because I’m reminded of how many different variations of laughter there are. Whether you’re a shoulder-heaver, a subtle chuckler, a shouting cackler, a double-clutcher, an embarrassed snorter, a wheezing inhaler, or a slap-the-table-bending-over-howling-and-crying expression maestro (we all know one), each one of us has our own ways of laughing. And therein is the beauty of laughter: we each understand our common joy. Laughter is one of the great unifiers of humanity, linking us all together in our ways of expressing happiness.
There’s something about laughter that gets down in our bones and makes our whole bodies feel a little bit lighter. Laughter has the uncanny ability to brighten up a hospital room, make the air a little less heavy in times of immense heartache, and make sure tears don’t stay on our cheeks for too long. Laughter is one of the most important parts of life, and we should never forget that.
But there are days I find it hard to laugh. Especially these last few months, when we’ve all been bombarded with one news story after another of suffering and pain the world over. Even the 2016 Rio Olympics, a global event meant to celebrate what is good and hopeful about humanity, has been marred with worries of disease, local injustice, and worldwide frustration. There are days it is hard to laugh.
But it’s in those times that I think we have to try and remember how. We shouldn’t ignore our times of suffering and put on a mask of laughter to survive, because eventually that mask will fall off. But we also can’t be overcome by the suffering we are so prone to seeing and we can’t be overcome by the sadness our lives deal us. Jesus told his disciples in John’s gospel that he had already overcome the world so that they might find peace. In the midst of this swirling storm of life, when we are berated and battered, we have to remember our infant instinct to laugh and feel joy and in that find that peace!
But that’s really hard. We don’t have straightforward recording of Jesus laughing in scripture. We have Jesus distraught and weeping and we have Jesus crying out in pain, but no times of Jesus laughing. That’s when I like to use my imagination and my own instinct to laugh, knowing that Jesus shared that instinct. There had to be some times when one of his followers told a bad joke and Jesus laughed at it. There had to be a time when Jesus was playing as a kid and laughed with friends. And if Jesus laughed, then we know that we can.
And since we can, we ought to. Snort, cackle, chuckle, howl, roll around on the floor if you have to, but remember that laughing is an instinct and we need it. Laughter can be the light when we can’t find one. Take a word from Mark Twain who said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” So find something to laugh about, and laugh on.