“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” (Gen. 21:6)
I write about some heavy stuff some times. And it is important to be serious. I was in a cross study yesterday, and I was struck once again about how much Jesus went through, and how great our response should be. We should be devoted to giving giving our very best to God.
But today I would like to focus on something less heavy — laughter. What a wonderful verse this is, when Sarah says she will laugh, and everyone will laugh with her! She has traveled with her husband for years through all kinds of places, been through all kinds of things. She has never had a child, and she is old and wrinkled. And then God gives her the thing she dreamed about most — a child! Her heart was filled with joy, joy so great that she laughed out loud.
I can remember a time in my life when I don’t think I really laughed for years. I had kind of frozen emotionally. I can remember a time in my life when I didn’t really have hope. I am so grateful that God has brought me to a place where I can laugh, and laugh often.
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.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.” Ps 126:1-2
We had our women’s small group in Columbus last night, and we talked about dreaming. It was so wonderful to reflect on how God has fulfilled the dreams I had in my 20’s and has given me more than I could ask or imagine! He gave me a purpose, and a great way to serve Him, especially here in Auburn. He has given me a wonderful marriage, and shaped Ken into the spiritual leader I longed for. He gave me amazing ways to use my talents in television and on the stage. He gave me treasured close friendships. He helped my kids grow up in so many amazing ways, and for our family to be close.
And I can think now of dreams that have recently been fulfilled, and how my mouth was filled with laughter. I was overflowing with joy when Max graduated and did well in nursing school, and now as Devon graduates and she has done so well in college after disliking it her first two years. I was ecstatic when LaJasmine was baptized. I was grateful beyond words when Jake and Bethany started serving here. I could go on and on.
What we talked about in our small group is how we all go through “goo periods” (from our sermon Sunday by Steve Staten) — tough times when we are like caterpillars in cocoons and our life seems amorphous. But then God helps us come out on the other side into laughter. It is important to dream and get unstuck out of the goo periods, to work and move forward, so God can bring us to these times of laughter.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ….He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful.” Luke 1:47-48, 54
I wrote a musical about the nativity story, “My Soul Is Dancing.” and I named it after this passage. In the musical, Mary is so happy that she sings these words and dances before God. And she isn’t just happy because she is pregnant. She is happy because she knows that the child she bears will somehow be a savior to Israel. Israel has underdone many unpleasant years of oppression — a long goo period! But a better time is coming.
When I wrote “My Soul is Dancing,” it was at a point in my life when I felt that MY soul was dancing. How incredible that God brought me from those years of being frozen emotionally to a time of unbridled joy and laughter!
It is good to remember all of this now, because my latest trial has been to have challenges of not feeling well emotionally. As with any time of trial, I can feel discouraged, bogged down with a negative mindset. BUT — “we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” (Ps 66:12) That is what God always does. We read last night, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isa 40:31) When I remember my hope is in God, when my focus is on Him, I can get through the trials. I expect that He will help me find a way to get through, and when I do get through, I will be surrounded by His abundant grace, and I will help others.
In closing, I want to mention another verse on laughter: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ….She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness…. a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Selections from Proverbs 31)
I believe God has brought me to a place of laughter because I have sought to fear Him and live a lifestyle where He is Lord. (I am not trying to hold myself up here, I know my flaws!) The woman in Proverbs 31 lived confidently, not in fear. She was always busy doing good things, and didn’t shrink back from trying new ways of using her talents. This is a great example of what brings laughter.
I pray that I can always walk forward confidently, laughing at the days to come, and laughing with thanksgiving for the abundant blessings He has brought by His grace.