It’s beautiful, most of the time.
I remember days in Jr. High thinking that laughter wasn’t a joyous event. It was an insult being spoken behind my back. It was confirmation that I didn’t fit in. It was evidence that I didn’t do something well. Then laughter bubbled from me, not the overflow of a happy heart, but a hardening of myself against careless words and hurtful intentions.
Laughter has a dark side.
But I seriously love to make people laugh. I love laughing with people. I would totally prefer to go see a comedian perform than go to a play. I even did a stand-up comedy workshop for a few years and I got to do some very mediocre five minute sets.
This is where it gets tricky for me. I find walking the line of laughter that brings joy and laughter that hurts to be a tough balance. I want to bring laughter that is life-giving, that is up-lifting and brings joy; the kind of laughter between friends when there was no punchline.
I think about the story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18 and 21). They were old, past normal childbearing years. Way past. They had accepted with great sadness that they would not have a child. God sent visitors to speak with Abraham and they announced that they would return the following year and Sarah would have a child. When she overheard them speaking, she laughed.
I imagine this was not a bubbling up of joy in her heart kind of laugh. It was a scoffing, sarcastic laugh. It was a laughter that would choke out potential hope. She was adding a layer of armor to prepare for more disappointment. I know that laugh.
God is faithful and keeps His promises. She became pregnant, and gave birth to a son. They named him Isaac, which means he laughs. After he was born Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” I love that this story began with laughter and ended with laughter, but they are so different. Sarcasm and bitterness have been stripped away. She is grateful, thankful, and awed by the gift that God has bestowed upon her. She looks at her little boy and can do nothing else but laugh. Joy bubbles over. Also, it’s kind of funny. Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born. Sarah was laughing at the crazy way God gives gifts. “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” She is seeing how wild and strange her story is, and she laughs. This kind of laugh comes from the heart. She stands in amazement of God and his goodness.
I like being funny. I love making people laugh. I want to share hope. I want to share the laughter that bubbles up in my heart because I know that God’s promises are good. I want to notice the crazy ways that God’s plan is unfolding and I want to laugh. I want to tell stories about life that are hilarious, not at the expense of others, but by noticing the beautiful, wild and strange ways that God’s story comes together.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.