The word “joy” occurs frequently in the Bible, but word “laughter” does not. Apparently, Christians should be joyful, but laughter poses a problem. We almost always share our joy with others, but too often we laugh at others instead of with them. I suppose that is why the Bible does not much encourage laughter.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-5 English Standard Version (ESV)
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
We learn from adversity, not from being coddled. Nevertheless, there are times the Bible speaks of both laughter and joy. When the Jews returned from from Babylonian exile in the sixth century b.c., they recorded this psalm.
Psalm 126 English Standard Version (ESV)
Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord
A Song of Ascents.
126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
For a time — for a little while, at least — the Jews had learned to obey the Lord.
On July 4th we commemorate a victory. That victory resulted in the birth of a nation. After struggling to conquer a wilderness — after battling with King George III and his armies — Americans filled their mouths with laughter, and their tongues shouted with joy.
Yes, today is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for contemplation. Lest He send us there for year upon year, set aside a few moments to spend in the house of mourning. Learn about the cause of a nation’s struggles. Take time to remember sorrows from a distant past.
- Read the Declaration of Independence. Contemplate the hard lessons that people like ourselves had to learn from times of famine, plague, and war.
- Consider The United States Constitution, an almost miraculous solution for bringing a nation together in unity.
Take the time to cherish what those who preceded us have given us. Imagine the endless, hard work of nation building. Imagine the grief caused by failure. Imagine their joy and gratitude in success. Then, once you have remembered the reason for our joy, you will have cause to laugh.