Greetings to the Joyful people of East Zorra!
When I was but a youth, the prevalent saying seemed to be ‘religion is serious business, therefore do not smile,” quoting Hezekiah 2:2. If I hear that untruth one more time, I think I’ll gag. I fully realize that too much humor can become offensive. I recognize that humour can be taken to such an extreme that it is inappropriate. But doesn’t it seem we have a long way to go before we are guilty of that problem? The final result of a joyless existence is sad—a superhigh-level intensity, borderline neurotic anxiety, an absence of just plain fun in one’s work, a lack of relaxation, and the tendency to take ourselves much too seriously. We need to lighten up! Yes, spirituality and fun do go well together.
My late mother’s much-quoted verse was ‘a merry heart doeth good like medicine’. And she lived it. She was always cheerful. When she worked for Ontario Public Health, her boss said: ‘Muriel Oakey is without a doubt one of the most consistently cheerful and cooperative persons it has been my pleasure to know. Her rapport with the 4 personnel whom she supervises has always been excellent. She engenders a spirit of camaraderie, which greatly facilitates harmony and productivity. She supervises without being authoritarian’. Would someone nominate her posthumously as an honourary Mennonite?
Scripture says: “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Prov. 15:13). Amazing how that proverb goes right to the heart of the problem (no pun intended). We’re not talking about a person’s face here as much as we are about the heart. Internal joy goes public. We can’t hide it. The face takes its cue from an inside signal.
A well-developed sense of humor reveals a well-balanced personality. Maladjusted people show a far greater tendency to miss the point in a funny remark. They take jokes personally. They take things that are meant to be enjoyable much too seriously. The ability to get a laugh out of everyday situations is a safety valve. It rids us of tensions and worries that could otherwise damage our health.
Do you think I’m exaggerating the benefits? “A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). Isn’t that eloquent? Literally, it says, “A joyful heart causes healing.” What is it that brings healing to the emotions, healing to the soul? A joyful heart. And when the heart is right, a joyful countenance accompanies it!
I think we need to lighten up a little. Spirituality and fun do go well together.
— Charles R. Swindoll