Ok, here’s a question for you. When is the last time you smiled? No, not that feeble twitch of the lips, but a broad, cheery smile that lit up the room and bathed everybody in it with warmth? Here’s another question for you. When is the last time you laughed? Not that little chortle, but a full-bellied laugh of merriment and joy? Been a while, hasn’t it? Now, isn’t that strange?
When I was a kid, our church pastor would have a social gathering for his flock once a month. Toward the end of the evening, he would play a movie. This would be Biblical during Lent, but it would be a comedy, usually a Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy film for the other eleven months. We kids would literally roll on the floor with laughter (no ROFL’s here) while the adults would be clutching their sides and howling with delight! I can’t remember the last time I have seen people laugh like that. Can you?
So, what happened? Stress is what happened. Pressure happened. Worries happened. And all this even without Covid thrown into the mix! It’s hard to smile when you are anxious about stuff, much less laugh, yet laughing is precisely what we should be doing.
In the middle of all its serious content, Reader’s Digest (yes, they’re still around!) has a couple of pages titled Laughter is the Best Medicine. That is spot on! Laughter relaxes the body. It boosts the immune system. It triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good chemicals. Laughter protects the heart. It diffuses anger. It even helps you live longer! These are medically proven facts. The Bible concurs: “A cheerful heart is good medicine!” (Proverbs 17:22).
But we have forgotten to laugh. We have lost our sense of humor. We have lost our ability to bring cheer to the lives of others because we have so little of it in ours. And what little joy we do have is often taken away by the negativity of others.
There is the story of a man standing by the side of the Brooklyn Bridge, obviously planning on jumping off it. A passerby saw him and started speaking to him, trying to talk him out of it. They spoke for ten minutes. Then both jumped! <laughs>
So, what do we do? We need to teach ourselves to laugh again, even in the wilderness. Perhaps, especially in the wilderness. And how do we do that? Watch a Just for Laughs episode on YouTube every day. Watch a funny movie on Netflix once or twice a week. Charlie Chaplin can STILL make that belly roll, but Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler might also do the trick! Read jokes. Memorize the funnier ones so you can share them with others, starting with your family, and make them laugh. Let us become a joyful people again. God doesn’t want his people sad, not when he is with them.
So take that frown off, and put a smile on. And keep smiling. If nothing else, it will make everybody wonder what you have been up to! <smiles>
#lessonsinthewilderness @ www.aneelaranha.com