The other day I was sitting in one of my favorite eating establishments, just about ready to eat my breakfast meal, when an elderly gentleman who also is a regular patron of this establishment came in with his son.
As they sat down to order, they asked the waitress for a high chair. Looking at these two in a rather amazed way, she did bring them a high chair and the elderly gentleman then placed a hairy little monkey doll in the chair, while saying that he had received that monkey for Christmas.
He then proceeded to push the monkey in the stomach, I believe, and the monkey began to laugh.…and laugh… and laugh! And it was not too long till I began to laugh… and laugh… and laugh!
And I looked around the room and everyone I could see was laughing… and laughing… and laughing! When the monkey stopped laughing the gentleman pushed the button again and the laughing all over the restaurant started all over again!
Years ago, my mother and father had taken a business trip to New York City for a week or so, and on one of those days when my father was stuck in meetings, my mother went …. Yes, you guessed it, shopping!
And she found in one of those New York tourist-trap novelty stores a new gadget that was hot off the assembly line and was selling like hotcakes. It was called, simply, a “Laugh Box.” You just push a button and this voice inside the box starts laughing… and laughing… and laughing!
Well, my mother thought this would be a good gift for someone, so she purchased the box and added the sack with it inside to her already growing load of shopping bags and packages. She then went to her hotel, and entered the elevator to go up to her floor. But so did everyone else, it seems. That elevator car was jam-packed!
And no sooner did the doors close and the car began to move than the crush of the crowd caused the man in front of my mother to lose his balance slightly and lean back on her packages. The pressure set off that laugh-box in my mother’s arms, and within seconds, the whole car was laughing up a storm!
It was only then that one of the other passengers in that car turned around, and Mom recognized him as the host of one of daytime-television’s most popular game shows. He was laughing too! In fact, he was so excited about the box, he invited Mom to come to join the audience on his show!
Both of these incidents drive home the principle that “Laughter is good medicine!” In fact, it is down-right contagious!
The wisest man to walk on this earth (short of Christ, that is!) talks about this as well! Wise King Solomon says, “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. … All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:13,15) And Nehemiah talked about it as well, when he said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
In fact, he was so well-known for his cheerful disposition, that when he failed to show it, it showed (Check out Nehemiah 2:1). All of this has prompted one Christian writer to claim that our best weapon is our teeth! – when they are showing! – through our smiles! – to a world that seems to be on the frown-side of life!
One businessman was once asked how he could be smiling and so cheerful all the time. His only response was, “Wouldn’t you be happy too if you had just spent thirty minutes with the Creator of the universe?
Friends, I am convinced God is pleased when we are enjoying life and what He has in store for us! He tells us to “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).
In fact, when we fail to have a joyful heart, it can be disastrous for us. The Lord even declared to His chosen people Israel, “Because you didn’t serve the Lord your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything, you will serve your enemies.” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48).
God wants each of us to have a joyful, happy, and cheerful heart!
Ultimately of course, that joy does not come when our favorite team wins or our biggest rival loses. It comes as we give glory to our Creator, and the one who sent His Son to die for our sins!
It comes when we worship Him – and not just one day a week, but constantly, every moment of every day, simply standing in awe of Him!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.