Remember the "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens" song from The Sound of Music? If I were to write a song about my favorite things, chocolate would rank way up near the top. So would laughter. I love to laugh. I especially love laughing so hard, tears pour down my cheeks, and my stomach muscles get sore. A full-body workout.
Of course, as Ecclesiastes tells us, there's a time to laugh, and a time not to. That's the problem, isn't it? I often find myself laughing during the "not to" times. I'm not trying to be disrespectful or anything, but you know how it is. When you're not supposed to laugh, it's hard to stifle it.
Take church, for example. I cherish the privilege of meeting together with fellow believers to worship and receive instruction from the Lord. But sometimes funny things happen, and my best intentions toward decorum dissolve into hilarity.
Recently a guest preacher visited our church. He was one of those Southern preachers who march around the platform and holler when they get excited. Before I tell you what happened, you need to understand a little about my son, Jacob. Nine years ago he nearly drowned and wasn't expected to live. Then he wasn't expected to awaken from coma. Doctors said he'd remain vegetative for the rest of his life. We didn't laugh much during those long, heart-breaking months. In fact, I didn't imagine I'd ever enjoy a full-body laugh again. But God had other plans. He turned our mourning into joy. He raised Jacob back to his feet and put a song of praise in his mouth. Many lives have been touched through Jacob's healing and his sweet, innocent faith. You see, Jacob still has a brain injury, but one amazing outcome of his ordeal is a childlike, pure love for Jesus.
So, the preacher preached, and Jacob listened intently. When the man leaned forward, wagged his finger, and yelled, "The Lord says, 'Open wide thy mouth, and I will fill it,'" Jacob took the instruction literally. He threw his head back and opened wide his mouth. Very wide.
My daughter was sitting beside him, and she lost it. Her body shook with laughter as she tried not to make a sound. I couldn't look at her. I knew if I did, I'd be in the same boat. She and I tend to be the ones in this family who get ourselves in the most trouble when it comes to laughing at "not to" moments. I was determined to be the strong one this time. But it was funny. And I'm pretty sure God enjoyed it, too.
Suffering is a part of life. It happens to everyone. No one goes through life without experiencing sorrow and pain. But, thanks be to God, we also have joy and delight. We can open our mouths wide, and God will fill them. With laughter.
A merry heart is good like medicine. I hope you all get a healthy dose of "medicine" today. :)