As of this morning, “Charlie Bit My Finger” has registered over 202 million views on YouTube.” If you haven’t seen it yet—or you just need a good laugh—click on the video above.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted,” comedian Charlie Chaplin once commented.
Not only is laughter a good way to spend your time, it also offers an unexpected secret to good health. Please join me today as we explore this topic further.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Kings 3:1-4:17. King Joram of Israel was much like his father Ahab. He led Israel in the worship of idols, however, it’s interesting that in a pinch, he sought the direction from the God of Israel. Deep down, we know the gods that tantalize us cannot rescue us.
King Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, provides us with a model of sincere faith. I find it interesting that he responded the same way to King Joram as he had to King Ahab: Jehoshaphat was unashamedly committed to Yahweh and openly acknowledged his reliance upon God’s direction. At the same time, he never comes across as preachy.
Three thoughts occur to me as I read about the kings’ preparation for battle:
- God showed favor to evil people because of the presence of the righteous (verse 14).
- Rescuing the troops in the desert was easy for God. As the troops in the desert are about to die of thirst, God responds to the kings plea for deliverance, Elisha tells them, “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 18).
- God answered the kings’ request in an unexpected way. No one assumed water to flow into a desert. When God answers our prayers, he often does so in unexpected ways. The challenge for us is to recognize it when it comes.
One difference between Elisha and Elijah is that Elisha carried some influence with the king (2 Kings 4:13). Perhaps this explains why King Joram wasn’t considered as evil as his father Ahab.
Acts 14:8-28. The crowd in Lystra is reminiscent of the crowd in Jerusalem during Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, the people shouted praises to Jesus and a week later they crucified him. In the same way, Paul and Barnabas were considered Greek gods before some Jews arrived in town and incited the people against them.
The New Bible Commentary offers an interesting explanation of why the people assumed the men were gods:
There is an ancient story about these same two gods visiting a town in the area. They were not recognized and received only a cool reception. In anger they destroyed the town that had been so inhospitable. With such a folk-tale circulating in this region, it is hardly any wonder that the crowd reacted in the way that they did, bringing forth a bull and wreathes and wanting to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas after a simple healing. The legend also helps to explain why they assumed the visitors were those particular gods rather than a god of healing, as might have been expected from the events themselves.
What incited the crowd against Paul and Barnabas? Probably a combination of embarrassment for being fooled and perhaps the belief that the men were seeking to take advantage of them (fueled by their Jewish accusers).
In verse 19, we read that the crowd stoned Paul (where was Barnabas?). Most amazing of all, though, we read in verse 20, “But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”
After being pelted with rocks and nearly killed, I doubt I would demonstrate the same commitment as Paul.
Reflecting on their opposition, Paul and Barnabas advised their fellow disciples, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (verse 22). The belief that followers of Jesus should never experience pain or suffering is completely false and misguided.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Years ago—before the proliferation of cable and satellite television, and Comedy Central—a friend of mine came up with the idea that every hospital should air a special television network dedicated to making people laugh. Quoting this passage of Scripture, he believed it would aid the patients in their healing.
Centuries later, scientific studies report that laughter triggers certain endorphins that help people heal.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, described laughter as a release of fear, anxiety and aggression. Further research by the American Physiological Society found that laughter decreases the secretion of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine while raising the levels of immune-boosting hormones, such as beta-endorphins and human growth hormone.
A doctor in India has even developed “laughter clubs” which have spread around the world. These clubs are designed to allow stressed-out executives to laugh their way back to good health.
Rather than being “unspiritual,” laughter is a gift from God and key to living healthy lives.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- How has laughter helped you heal?
- How does laughter fit into your walk with God?
- What humorous experiences with God would you be willing to share with us?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.