Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. — Luke 6:21
And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream —
Almost-and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy. And everywhere
I turned I saw a wonder there.1 — John Piper
Who said, "If you're not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there"? (Hint: It wasn't Mark Twain.) It was Martin Luther.
In Heaven, I believe our joy will often erupt in laughter. When laughter is prompted by what's appropriate, God always takes pleasure in it. I think Christ will laugh with us, and his wit and fun-loving nature will be our greatest sources of endless laughter.
Where did humor originate? Not with people, angels, or Satan. God created all good things, including good humor. If God didn't have a sense of humor, human beings, as his image-bearers wouldn't either. Of course, if God didn't have a sense of humor, we probably also wouldn't have aardvarks, baboons, platypuses, and giraffes, just to name a few. You have to smile when you picture one of these, don't you?
There's nothing like the laughter of dear friends. The Bible often portrays us around the dinner table in God's coming kingdom. What sound do you hear when friends gather to eat and talk? The sound of laughter.
My wife, Nanci, loves football. She opens our home to family and friends for Monday night football. Right now there are five toddlers in the group, and they keep us laughing. If you came to our house on Monday nights, you'd hear cheers and groans for the football teams, but the dominant sound in the room, week after week, is laughter. There are stories from family and work, and heart-to-heart talks, and pausing to pray — all surrounded by laughter. God made us to laugh and to love to laugh.
The new universe will ring with laughter. Am I just speculating about this? No. I can point to Scripture worth memorizing. Jesus says, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh" (Luke 6:21). You will laugh.
Where will we be satisfied? In Heaven. Where will we laugh? In Heaven. Can we be certain of that? Yes, because Jesus, just two verses later, tells us precisely where this promise will be fulfilled: "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven" (Luke 6:23).
Just as Jesus promises satisfaction as a reward in Heaven, he also promises laughter as a reward. Anticipating the laughter to come, Jesus says we should "leap for joy" now. Can you imagine someone leaping with joy in utter silence, without laughter? Take any group of rejoicing people, and what do you hear? Laughter. There may be hugging, backslapping, playful wrestling, singing, storytelling. But always there is laughter. It is God's gift to humanity, which will only be raised to new levels at the resurrection.
The reward of those who mourn now will be laughter later. Passages such as Luke 6 gave the early Christians strength to endure persecution in "an understanding of heaven as the compensation for lost earthly privileges."2 In early Christian Greek tradition, Easter Monday was a "day of joy and laughter," called Bright Monday. Only the followers of Christ can laugh in the face of persecution and death because they know that their present trouble isn't all there is. They know that someday they will laugh.
By God's grace, we can laugh right now, even under death's shadow. Jesus doesn't say, "If you weep, soon things on Earth will take a better turn, and then you'll laugh." Things won't always take a better turn on an Earth under the curse. Sickness, loss, grief, and death will find us. Just as our reward will come in Heaven, laughter (itself one of our rewards) will come in Heaven, compensating for our present sorrow. God won't only wipe away all our tears, he'll fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with laughter.
Those who are poor, diseased, and grieving experience therapeutic laughter. At memorial services, people laugh quickly. The best carefree moments on Earth bring laughter. And if we can laugh hard now — in a world full of poverty, disease, and disasters — then surely what awaits us in Heaven is far greater laughter.
One of Satan's great lies is that God — and goodness — is joyless and humorless, whereas Satan — and evil — bring pleasure and satisfaction. In fact, it's Satan who's humorless. Sin didn't bring him joy; it forever stripped him of joy. In contrast, envision Jesus with his disciples. If you cannot picture Jesus teasing them and laughing with them, you need to reevaluate your theology of Creation and Incarnation. We need a biblical theology of humor that prepares us for an eternity of celebration, spontaneous laughter, and overflowing joy.
C. S. Lewis depicts laughter in Heaven when his characters attend the Great Reunion on the New Narnia: "And there was greeting and kissing and handshaking and old jokes revived (you've no idea how good an old joke sounds after you take it out again after a rest of five or six hundred years)."3
Who's the most intelligent, creative, witty, and joyful human being in the universe? Jesus Christ. Whose laughter will be loudest and most contagious on the New Earth? Jesus Christ's.
When you face difficulty and discouragement, keep your eyes on joy's source. Recite Christ's promise for the new world, a promise that echoes off the far reaches of the universe: "You will laugh."
Do you look forward to laughter in Heaven? Are you experiencing the joy of Christ so that there is plenty of laughter in your life now?
Father, today, right now, feeling as I do, with deadlines and health issues and friends who are hurting and world events in flux, I need to hear your promise that in Heaven we will laugh. I picture Jesus, laughing with his disciples, and I can't wait to hear his laugh in person. I look forward to laughing with him at banquets and on walks and in conversations. Thank you for the gift of laughter. Thank you that you invented it. Thank you that we do not have to wait until Heaven to laugh, but that laughter can carry us on its back through difficult times. I think of the release that laughter brings at memorial services for people who have followed you faithfully, people who are already laughing on death's other side. I have enjoyed rich laughter, mingled with tears, with friends and family in difficult days. When we weep now, Father, remind us that in Heaven, partaking of your joy, we will laugh.
1 Piper, Future Grace, 381.
2 McDannell and Lang, Heaven: A History, 47.
3 C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: Collier, 1956), 179.
Excerpted from Randy Alcorn's book, 50 Days of Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers), Day 43.
By Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 200, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, www.epm.org. Used by permission. © Eternal Perspective Ministries. All rights reserved.