You would think laughing would be a positive day in this Bible study. I like a good laugh. I don’t fancy myself a comedian, but I tend towards making light of things to ease the darkness of life. I like to see people smile and getting them to laugh is a special bonus that I admit I enjoy.
The root word for laugh in Ecclesiastes 3:4 is funny sounding to me in itself…sawkawk.
I imagine an unattractive bird with a long turkey skin neck and beady eyes strutting around yelling, “Sawkawk! Sawkawk!” Too funny.
The word sawkawk can mean to make sport, to jest, to laugh, or to amuse…it appears that there is a time for humor, and there most certainly is! However, I was shocked to find that most uses in the Bible of this root are, what I would consider, on the negative side of things.
There is a fair amount of derision in the Old Testament. People laughing at others, expressions of the Psalmist laughing at us, individual and communal angst expressed when someone is made fun of for another’s pleasure and gain. There is the time when both Abraham and Sarah laugh at God (not a great move), and even in Proverbs 31 she – wisdom, or the proverbial woman- laughs at time, like, “Hey time, take that! You think you can foil me, watch my tornado self clean this house and play with these kids and love on this husband.” You get the idea.
In the New Testament, we often see the Pharisees laughing at Jesus. Yuck. This is not good laughter either. But Jesus, as He so often does, turns the things of this world on their ear.
Read Luke 6:20-26 –
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Don’t miss the beauty in verse 20 – “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples…”
He had a particular audience for this passage. He ever invites us into relationship with Him and he’s honest with us.
“Blessed are those who weep…” There will be weeping. But “they will laugh.”
“Woe to those who laugh.”…they will weep. Oh will they weep.
It’s a promise with some wisdom tucked in.
Not to be too law oriented, but what is funny to us? Is it appropriate? Is it at the expense of someone else?
When we laugh in eternity it will be sheer joy. God gives us glimpses and moments of that with those we love now. We laugh at our child making silly faces to amuse us, we laugh at an ironic coincidence on a TV show, we laugh at a friends perfect timing when they share, “I have totally been there!”
One thing I learned from reading the Scriptures today is that I have a new prayer.
I thank you, Lord, for laughter, and for people to share moments and time and pleasures with. Lord, keep my heart from finding humor in someone else’s struggle. Mold me and make me tender to Your precious people. May I always laugh, but may it never be at someone else’s expense. In Your Name we pray, Amen.
What makes you laugh? (This is a no judgement zone! Be honest. A person, a show, a limerick, whatever.)
Share a funny joke or meme.
Do you have any painful memories of someone laughing at you or a time you treated someone poorly that you wish you could undo? (Take a deep breathe and breathe in God’s forgiveness in His Word!)