Encounter: Psalm 126 paints for us a moment in history when there was the return of the Jews from Babylon back to their beloved home of Jerusalem in 538 bc. Thousands had been uprooted and taken to Babylon. Living in a foreign land, away from their homeland, they had dreamed of one day returning to Zion (that is, Jerusalem). When the dream finally came true after approximately 70 years, they could hardly believe it had happened and the Psalmist described their reaction. They were “filled with laughter.” Read slowly through Psalm 126:1-6 NASB & the NLT. Then read Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) - A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Most of us can remember hearing something to the effect of, “Laughter is the best medicine.” I am sure not everyone knows this is actually a Proverb written by King Solomon, who took it upon himself to write down what is obvious in most cases, but are good reminders nonetheless.
We all know what it feels like to watch a video of a baby that giggles every time their parent makes a face or swings them in the air. We begin to laugh right along with them. We also know how it feels to have someone break into our day when the blahs have become heavy and the bad news is streaming and suddenly brings a smile to our face and laughter to our hearts. How about laughing until you cry? Laughter truly is good medicine.
“Medicine” is something that treats or alleviates the symptoms of disease. One commentary suggests, “A cheerful heart causes good healing” as an appropriate literal translation. The NET Bible reads, “A cheerful heart brings good healing.” The Revised English Bible says, “A glad heart makes for good health.”
Studies show it can literally soothe physical tension, stimulate the intake of oxygen-rich breathing, get our hearts, lungs, and muscles pumping, then decrease our heart rate and blood pressure afterwards, giving us a more relaxed feeling. It can improve our immune system, relieve pain, and improve our mood. So why not do more of it?
Throughout the scriptures and stories of the Bible, joy and laughter are always birthed out of times and experiences with God. It's like once we know who we are in light of who God is and we center our lives around that meaning and purpose, the gladness of freedom comes and fills our lives, our relationships and aligns us with the Father's will. One way we are helping to experience more of this gift is through the new study, Crafting a Rule of Life. Having healthy rhythms and making space for encounters with God can actually make space for more laughter. Come along with us and try it! There's a Sunday evening and Monday evening option and it begins this week. Click on the link in Eden Weekly to join or if you have questions
Remember to make laughter a part of your day, with your kids, with your family and friends. Worship this week centers around God’s gift of laughter given to us to help us Lighten Up! There are some suggestions listed on the cards you will receive in worship this Sunday so take those and go have some fun! And please! Don’t forget to laugh in church and then take it into your week, who knows what could happen. People may witness our joy and say, “The Lord has done great things for them!”
Ready for laughter,
Reflect: Think about what it would be like to be removed from your home, forced to leave and go to some foreign land where you were not aloud to leave, and then feel the relief of walking down the road to your neighborhood and seeing all that was familiar, a part of your family's heritage and your home. How would you feel? Can you think of a time when you were “filled with laughter?” When and why did this happen?
Encourage: Is there something you can share with someone to encourage laughter? Can you use some laughter to help lighten up your own blahs? Read this week’s SAD journal and place the daily exercise card somewhere you can see it daily. Record in the journal at the end of the week how this affected your senses.
Gather: In your small group time talk about the Encounter & Reflection exercise above and share what it would be like to experience being a refugee that is returning home and the times laughter has been a gift in your life. You can almost feel the laughter bubbling up! Then read through this week’s SAD journal on the Eden Church App and discuss.