“A cheerful heart does good, like medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Marvin Williams, Our Daily Bread, Oct. 23, 2007, writes:
A judge has ordered a German man to stop bursting into laughter in the woods. Joachim Bahrenfeld, an accountant, was taken to court by one of several joggers who say their runs have been disturbed by Bahrenfeld’s deafening squeals of joy. He faces up to 6 months in jail if he is caught again. Bahrenfeld, 54, says he goes to the woods nearly every day to relieve stress. “It is part of living for me,” he says, “like eating, drinking, and breathing.” He feels that a cheerful heart, expressed through hearty laughter, is important to his health and survival.
Wholesome laughter has great face value! A cheerful heart is essential in life; it affects our spirit and our physical and emotional health (Proverbs 17:22). Sometimes we Christians can be so preoccupied with maintaining our dignity that we become a joyless lot in need of a joy transfusion. How contradictory, since we belong to God and He has given us this gift of joy and laughter.
King David “danced before the LORD with all his might” when they brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem “with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (2 Samuel 6:14-15).
Psalm 126, probably written after the return from Babylonian exile, captures the Israelites’ joy of being set free (v. 1-3). “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (2a). We need to take time to laugh. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Life does not have to be so hard! Sometimes we make it that way by saying no to joy because we don’t have time for it, or think we deserve it; or we impose so many rules on ourselves that we’re like the Pharisees who became self-imposed slaves to the precise laws they created.
How long has it been since you have said yes to good wholesome fun? Paul says “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). What are you waiting for? If you are always structured, steadfast and sincere, it’s time to balance the scales with some spontaneity in your life.
Internal joy goes public—we cannot hide it. A joyful heart brings healing. And when the heart is right, a joyful countenance accompanies it. The ability to laugh in today’s trying times is a safety valve, ridding us of needless worry that could possibly harm our health.
The heart overflows with gladness, and leaps and dances for the joy it has found in God.
In this experience the Holy Spirit is active, and has taught us in the flash of a moment
the deep secret of joy. You will have as much joy and laughter in life
as you have faith in God. –Martin Luther