For You Will Laugh”
Luke 6: 17-26

ren’t we glad that we serve a God who laughs! "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh..." (Psalm 2:4 KJV). Our laughing God wants us to have times of laughter. The wisdom of Ecclesiastes observes that there is, "A time to weep and a time to laugh." (3:4).

We hear Jesus saying that one of the great purposes of his words is to bring joy into the hearts of believers: "These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (Jn. 15:11). Paul expresses it to the Romans in this manner:"...for the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (14:17).

I grew up hearing church folks express the old adage: "No joy, no Jesus." What they obviously were affirming was that when Jesus comes into one’s heart to abide, there is a natural joy, gladness, and holy laughter that results.

In Dr. Luke’s rendition of "The Sermon on the Mount" we hear Jesus talking about our laughter. He is actually rebuking those who are laughing for all the wrong reasons: "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep." (Lk. 6:25). But, we hear his promise that for those of us whoknow his grace there is an inner experience of true joy beyond temporal things: "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (6:21).

Do you have an unspeakable, inexpressible happiness that at times fills your heart with gladness, even amid great sadness? One by one my father’s eleven brothers and sisters have died and each funeral has brought a surprise guest called happiness. Sure, there is always sorrow and tears, but we Christians do not grieve like those who have no hope, for we know that even though this body of flesh will be destroyed, yet we will see God in resurrection. It’s designed into us the desire to live as long as is possible, but we are also aware of our mortality; thus, the promise of our Lord gives great joy in the face of death.

What a happy band we are! As I go out and do after dinner talks at civic clubs and all sorts of groups, my funniest material is church humor--- sometimes true stories that have been passed down by oral tradition and retold from thousands of pulpits. Great truths are often experience amid joke telling times. Our ears are opened in an uncanny way by humor. It’s hard to not listen to a joke, or humorous story-- the sleeper waketh for the pun.

For example. Back in Mayberry there was a sawmiller in my Daddy’s church who was bad to drink. One Saturday afternoon he drunkenly went alone out to the mill and turned on the motor that turned that eight foot across circular buzz saw. He started feeding in pine trees and slicing them into two inch thick planks--- this is supposed to be a three man job. Things went along for a while, but then he got a little too close and cut his nose off. He ‘thunk real quick like and stuck it back on and tied it in place with his ‘bandanner handkerchief. About six week went by and he got in front of the mirror and took the handkerchief off--- he had put his nose on upside down--- every time it would rain he’d nearly drown, and when he ‘blowed his nose his hat would fly off.'

That’s one of my Daddy’s stories and every place that I tell it there is laughter. However, it communicates the point that any drunk person is likely to do something about that stupid. Social drinkers, who often drive home legally drunk from parties can hear that joke when most preaching about the subject falls on deaf ears.

Humor also helps us see ourselves as we really are--- the joke gives objectivity. One of the hardest things we do is allow God to heal our broken heart and especially widows don’t know that God wants them to be able to laugh again, after a time of grief. It’s not his will that we live doomed to pain forever.

We had a rich man in our town who knew that he was terminally ill. He called his wife in and said, "Darling you are a beautiful woman and I know you’ll want to get married again after a while, and I know that whoever you marry will want to drive my Lincoln and live in my mansion and maybe even wear my fine clothes. But just one thing, if you ever marry again, please don’t let him play with my new golf clubs!" The young wife responded, "Oh, don’t worry, he’s left handed."

If a grieving person can laugh at that joke, I think it would do them more good than many hours of counseling. In fact, many counselors attempt to use humor in their process. If a person can laugh at themselves, they are able to begin to heal.

However, Christian joy is much more than laughing at a joke, It’s laughing at a joke with understanding. It’s knowing that behind everything that happens to us in life, there is good that will come out of it according to God’s promise. Sure, when you are in an accident, or get sick, of experience a disappointment, there is temporary shock, but doesn’t the assurance that all is well soon follow?

Sometimes we temporarily forget who we are--- as children of God, the King’s Kids. We often forget to pray in emergency situations. A Pastor tells of having a heart attack and being rushed to the hospital and having all kinds of treatments, and three days later he remembered that he had not breathed a prayer. Two of my favorite British authors wrote books by the same name. Surprised By Joy. C.S. Lewis wrote his after the death of a relative and shared how moment by moment joy had been an experience of his relationship with Christ. J.B. Phillips wrote his book by the very same title out of a lifelong clinical depression caused by a neurological disorder. The gift of joy unspeakable was always there even in the darkest times.

Christian Joy is not dependent upon our emotions but is a gift of the Spirit. That gift is available to you this day as you open your heart to it.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor