When my brother and I were very small I remember that we would sometimes get the giggles. I am sure that we started laughing for some valid reason, but when it got out of control we were just laughing because we were laughing. There was no stopping it, even with the threat of punishment from whatever authority was lurking near us who could not see the funny side of things.
I like to see people laughing, and I love to make people laugh. I too like a good laugh, and I would rather laugh than cry. Sometimes I go back to the old days with my brother and laugh so much that I can’t stop and laugh so much that it hurts my stomach. Sometimes I laugh so much that I cry. In the wonderful years since I met Libby and became a Christian I have laughed a lot. When you have a good life, laughter is easy.
When life is not so good, laughter can be rare and really difficult, but when it comes it can lighten our burden. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and so it can be. I have spoken to many who have been in a really dark place, and getting them to laugh can break so many chains and demolish so many prisons. I will cry with them, but try to get them to laugh with me. Even a smile can start to build a road that was never there.
But there are times when laughter is not good. Any comedian will tell you that timing is all-important, and sometimes the situation you are in is the wrong time for laughter. The subject matter is important too – we should not laugh at another’s misfortune. Laughter can show your feelings – it might show that you are happy, but it might also show that you just don’t care. That can cause hurt and result in rejection – sometimes the other person’s, and often yours.
Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. (Mark 5:37-41, NLT)
A lot of people got it wrong that day and they missed out on so much! They laughed. They laughed at the wrong time, at the wrong thing, and at the wrong person. They laughed and as they laughed they showed their feelings and their beliefs. As they laughed, they showed that they believed that Jesus was a nothing, a fool, a man who didn’t know what he was talking about. They missed out on seeing a miracle, because their laughter showed that they had no faith. They also probably missed out on an eternity with God, because Jesus “made them all leave” – he sent them away, rejected.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to say what sounded ridiculous to most of the people around him. The child isn’t dead. He said it because he knew, he knew because he had faith. Sometimes we have to say things that others will think is ridiculous. Ridiculous or not, we should still say them, because we know they are true and we should have faith. Yes, perhaps people will laugh at us, but that laughter is not a sign of our rejection.
It is the start of theirs.