Laughter is not taught. It is part of us from birth. Within a few months, long before they can talk, babies laugh. It is contagious. Adults join in, doubled over with the laughter and joy of a giggling baby. The laughter of children on a playground is a balm to the soul.
No other animal does this. It is a unique human trait that God built into our psyche and our soul. We are not sure what triggers it. We can seldom predict when it will hit, but we know it is contagious. When others laugh, we laugh. Sometimes without any idea of what caused it in the first place.
We like to be around others who laugh. It is therapeutic. When I think of my father or my grandmother, I think of them laughing even though they have been gone for decades. I know my wife is talking to her sister on the phone by the way she laughs, even though they are a thousand miles apart.
We will pay huge sums for comedians and performers who can make us laugh. Television sitcoms figured this out over a half century ago. Original laughter tracks used for early TV sitcoms are still employed to accentuate humor for contemporary characters. Many of us are still laughing with generations long gone.
But the best laughter is spontaneous. Nothing is as exhilarating and lifting to my soul as the laughter of my grandchildren. Our youngest are five, seven and two. When they come running out the door leaping into my arms and laughing, whatever burdens I may have felt melt like snow in the sun and I am filled with laughter and joy.
When Sarah gave birth to Isaac she said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6).
Victory and celebration bring laughter. Just watch baseball, football and soccer teams who achieve their goals. We have all joined in the laughter at weddings and graduations.
Psalm 126 refers to the joy of those who celebrated their returned to Jerusalem after years of captivity: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting.” (Ps. 126:1-2).
Perhaps you haven’t laughed in a while. Perhaps you have been burdened with depression and loneliness. Do not fear. God will yet fill your heart with laughter. Like Sarah, who gave birth in her old age, after enduring decades of ridicule and sorrow. Like the exiles of Jerusalem, who wept by the Euphrates River, far from their home. God will yet restore laughter to your soul. You will rejoice.
The Christian faith is a joyful faith, even in difficult and adverse circumstances. “Shout joyfully all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence with joyful singing!” (Psalm 100). “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5).
The references to joy are far too numerous to list.
Surely God takes pleasure in our laughter as mothers and fathers take pleasure in the laughter of their children. He wants to fill your heart with joy.