An old Yiddish proverb says, “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
American clergyman Henry Ward Beecher echoed these sentiments when he said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”
And the late actor Victor Borge reminded us, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
During this time of restoration following the hurricanes, we are all striving to “get back to normal” A good way to deal with stress while we are repairing our homes and our families is to maintain a sense of humor.
Theologian Karl Barth said, “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.” That’s a powerful statement.
Likewise, William A. Ward, one of the nation’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims, reminded us, “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”
Humorist Mark Twain may have put it best when he once said, “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”
Most of you are familiar with the narrative entitled, “Footprints.” A new version brings out the joy of sharing the spiritual life with the Lord. The following is the new adaptation.
“Imagine you and the Lord Jesus are walking down the road together. For much of the way, the Lord’s footprints go along steadily, consistently, rarely varying the pace.
“But your footprints are a disorganized stream of zigzags, starts and stops, turnarounds, circles, departures and returns. For much of the way, it seems to go like this, but gradually your footprints come more in line with the Lord’s, soon paralleling his consistently. You and Jesus are walking as true friends!
“This seems perfect, but then an interesting things happens: Your footprints that once etched the sand next to Jesus’ are now walking precisely in His steps. Inside the larger footprints are your smaller ones. You and Jesus are becoming one.
“This goes on for many miles, but gradually you notice another change. The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow larger. Eventually they disappear altogether. The footprints have become one.
“This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second sets of footprints is back. This time it seems even worse! Zigzags are all over the place. Stops. Starts. Gashes in the sand. A variable mess of prints. You are amazed and shocked.
“Your dream ends. Now you pray: ‘Lord, I understand the first scene, with zigzags and fits. I was a new Christian; I was just earning. But you walked on through the storm and helped me learn to walk with you.’
“‘That is correct.’
“‘When the smaller footprints were inside yours, I was actually learning to walk in your steps, following you very closely.’
“‘Very good. You have understood everything so far.’
“When the smaller footprints grew and filled in yours, I suppose that I was becoming like you in every way.’
“So, Lord, was there a regression or something? The footprints separated, and this time it was worse than at first.’
“After a pause, the Lord answers with a smile in his voice. ‘You didn’t know? It was then that we danced!'”
Other quotations about the importance of laughter: Israel’s former Prime Minister Golda Mier said, “Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”
We also have to learn to laugh at our misfortunes. Poet and composer Elmer Diktonius maintained, “I was strongest when I laughed at my weakness.”
Finally, if we want to life a long, happy life, Mary Poole tells us, “The person who laughs, lasts.”