October 10, 2009

Needed Today: a Good Laugh

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance …
Ecclesiastes 3:4


I’m writing on a day when our paper carried a story about groups gathering at a cancer ward to tell jokes and read funny stories in order to get cancer patients to laugh. It’s supposed to help with healing.

I know that pastors need a sense of humor, or there’d be more churches without pastors. A good sense of humor is vital. Churches need it, or they may think God can’t take care of the world on his own. When we think of the many festivals and celebrations of joy that God created for his people, as well as the complete joy we receive in finding new life in Christ, we can see that the one true God is the maker of laughter, joy, and fun.

The observations of the writer of Ecclesiastes are right on! “There is a time … to laugh”—also at ourselves. Research verifies the conclusion that “a cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Stress is greatly reduced when we have a tears-producing, almost uncontrollable belly laugh. Relationships strengthen when we laugh with each other, but even close family relationships are strained when we laugh at each other.

The ability to laugh at appropriate times is a gift to be cherished. Doing so as friends and family builds strong relationships that prevent dreaded dysfunction. A healthy family enjoys a smile and shares a tear. In our relationship together with God, we can do both.

Father God, thank you for understanding us so well. You know our needs as well as our wants. We do want desperately to please you. Give us a sense of humor, we pray. Amen.

About the author — George Vink

Pastor George Vink has served as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church for more than 30 years in British Columbia, Montana, Michigan, and California. He and his wife, Shirley, have four married sons and nine grandchildren.

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