Christianity 201

November 27, 2010

Laughter is a “Surprise” Reaction

Today’s post is written by Randy Bohlender, a blogger I once linked to at Thinking Out Loud, but had lost track of.   This is a longer post, but a must read.     It appeared at his blog under the title, Laughing When It’s Not Funny

We use humor or laughter to try to cover a multitude of things.

When children say something particularly cutting and then realize they’ve stepped over the line and someone’s feelings were truly hurt, they throw the smokescreen of ‘just kidding’.

Adults, on the other hand, use the laughter escape hatch to avoid dealing with their own pain. “Did I dream that? Was I hoping to accomplish that? That’s a joke. I never meant it. I’m fine. No, really…”.

Most of you know that I’m on this Bible reading kick, my second 90 day lap through the scriptures. I’ve been overwhelmed at the number of people who’ve decided to do this at the same time – I wish I’d kept track, but my guess is I’ve heard of nearly fifty people from across the nation and faith spectrum. I’m loving it.

I couldn’t help but think of those people this morning as i read about Sarah, hiding behind the curtain, listening to her husband entertain heavenly guests. When they spoke to him about Sarah having a child in her old age, she laughed.

It was ludicrous, wasn’t it? It was silly. It was unheard of. So she laughed. Besides, laughter was easier than tears, and there had been so many tears over this issue.

She and her husband had been married many long years but no child had been born to them. It wasn’t for lack of desire. In a culture that very much understood the power of family lineage, it wasn’t just a desire, it was a necessity. To have a child was to have a future. To grow old without children meant a miserable existence. She’d longed…and hoped…but to no avail.

It’s not hard to identify with her. We’ve all wanted something so badly that it hurt – often times things that God would desire us to want. We’ve all dreamed God dreams in the dark of night and wondered if the dawn would ever come. Sarah had decided that the night season was her lot in life. A child was not coming. It was easier to laugh than it was to cry because it helped her keep up the facade that it didn’t really matter. She was fine, really. What a hoot – a child in her old age.

Except that it wasn’t fine.

The ache was still there.

It might seem cruel to stir the dead dream of an old woman…unless you’ve got the power to bring it to pass. God had watched her hope, He had watched her pray, and He had watched her give up. Now, He watched her laugh….laugh at the thought that He might be true to His word, not because she thought it was funny, but because it was her only ‘out’ from under the weight of the dream.

Of course, a few chapters later, much to her shock, her dream lives. A little boy is born. The realization of her dream is so much more than she ever imagined. She holds him close at night and she remembers the day she laughed and the countless nights she cried. In that moment, she knows better than anyone where life comes from and who brings dreams back from the dead.

A vast percentage of people on this Bible reading journey are laughing to cover tears over a dead dream. Let Sarah’s story be a lesson – God has the last laugh.

If it was His dream, it didn’t die. In the fullness of time, it will be all He promised. You can laugh if you want to.

In addition to being a husband and father, Randy Bohlender and his wife Kelsey founded The Zoe Foundation, which uses various means to help facilitate adoption, which makes this particular Bible story, I’m sure, all that more relevant.

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