And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” – Genesis 21:6
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”- John 15:11
The late Norman Cousins, formerly editor of Saturday Review, had so serious a disease in the 1960’s that doctors gave him only one in five hundred chances of surviving. That gaunt prediction notwithstanding, he beat the odds by rejecting hospital treatment and formulating his own plan. He took massive doses of vitamin C, watched Marx Brothers films and Candid Camera reruns, and read exhaustively from humor books. He found that laughter banished negative feelings and relieved his pain. Previously, pain led to tension and tension to more pain. He discovered that ten minutes of “genuine belly laughter” gave him at least two hours of pain-free sleep.
Gelotology—the science of humor—is in its infancy and cannot explain all the reasons laughter is so valuable to us. Perhaps it relieves pain by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, into the bloodstream. It certainly protects us from negative emotions and attitudes. It encourages us to develop self-enhancing behavior patterns.
While humor encouraged better health for Mr. Cousins, it was still a limited benefit. Christ offers an eternal benefit. He removes sin from our lives altogether, absolutely, completely, and forever. In Christ, God claims complete amnesia over the sins we have committed and confessed. For good reason. Jesus had the perfect sacrifice to offer: himself He had the place to offer it: the cross. He had a compelling reason to offer it: forgiveness. He had a place to take it once offered: into heaven. He had a purpose in taking it there: to represent us eternally before the throne of God.
Hurley, V. Speaker’s Sourcebook of New Illustrations (electronic ed.) (106–107). Dallas: Word Publishers, 2000.