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7 Important Things We Can Learn about Laughter from the Bible

God gifts us with laughter that heals, uplifts, restores, provides a new perspective and changes our mood. The Author of life is full of joy that spills over us.

Updated Apr 10, 2024
7 Important Things We Can Learn about Laughter from the Bible

There's nothing quite like sharing a hearty belly laugh with friends, often accompanied by tears — an involuntary response to something hilarious. Some recent dad jokes making the rounds are too good to resist, like this gem: “What did the buffalo say to his son as he left for college?“

“Bison.”

Laughter is a gift from God, connecting us to the joyful presence of our Creator. Psalm 16:11 beautifully says, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” This sentiment is echoed in Zephaniah 3:17, where we're reminded of God's joyful affection for His children as He sings and rejoices over them.

Laughter has the incredible power to bridge gaps and bring hearts closer. As Victor Borge famously said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."

A dear couple comes to mind as a perfect example of a close connection because of laughter. Being with them at Elof and Dorothy's home, an elderly couple in our church, made every moment like a celebration. Merriment was weaving through every sentence.

The sheer joy that permeated their home was infectious. Elof possessed a twinkle in his eye that could light up a room, effortlessly bringing smiles to our faces even when his words weren't intended to be humorous. And Dorothy, besides her unmatched hospitality over a meal, her genuine warmth and love for hilarity delighted every gathering.

1. Laughter Is Good for the Soul

Laughter is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, sprinkled between the verses and stories we've learned so well. 

One such story is from 1 Samuel 21, where the king’s regal and dignified surroundings, with grandeur and prestige reflecting the esteemed status and stately decorum, somehow caused the quota of “madmen” to be excessive.

David, fleeing from murderous Saul, went to enemy territory in Gath. When King Achish’s servants question, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands?”

So, fearful of the King, David pretended to be insane, acting like a madman. The irony and absurdity of the situation, coupled with King Achish’s incredulous reaction, bring a comedic element: “Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:15).

There is a bond between laughter and crying, both forms of emotional release that stem from a place of vulnerability and authenticity. While preaching, I noticed a natural inclination for people to resonate with humorous illustrations, which correlated with opening their hearts to spiritual response, often evoking tears. The link between laughter and tears is incredibly tight. Laughter is the gateway to the heart.

Our shared range of emotions is a precious gift. Just picture the disciples' overjoyed and carefree laughter when they saw the resurrected Jesus. Awestruck by His loving smile and the marks of the nails in His hands and feet, their grief was shattered as rejoicing, dancing, and fullness of joy were restored.

The gift of laughter heals, relieves stress, uplifts, and lends a new perspective in harsh situations.

2. Laughter Is a Divine Gift

Laughter, a gift from God, is a precious and often overlooked treasure in our daily lives. It is a beautiful manifestation of joy that transcends language barriers and cultural divides. A simple smile shared with a stranger can ignite a chain reaction of positivity, reminding us of laughter’s impact on our interconnectedness.

The Book of Proverbs has this gem of wisdom: "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). It's like a gentle nudge from above, reminding us to embrace laughter as a source of healing and renewal.

3. Laughter Brings Healing

Laughter triggers physical benefits that boost the immune system and prevent illness and infection. It involves various brain activities and emotions. Laughter reduces stress hormones and alleviates anxiety and depression.

Regular laughter improves blood flow and is beneficial to the heart. It’s a natural pain killer and improves life quality as it promotes a positive outlook, fosters optimism, and helps navigate life’s ups and downs.

4. Laughter Is Linked with the Miraculous

Long past the hope of ever having a baby, the Old Testament story of a barren woman, Sarah, hearing God’s promise of a child, bursts into laughter (Genesis 18: 12). After a lifetime of infertility, the joy of imagining herself as a mother, amid disbelief, laughter bubbles forth.

“And Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me'” (Genesis 21:6).

And their son, Isaac, means laughter.

5. Laughter Lifts Our Spirit

But laughter isn't just about giggles and chuckles; it can also be an act of resistance in the face of adversity. The story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, despite facing ridicule from his enemies, declares, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

Laughter has the power to defy despair and lift our souls. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

6. Trusting God Like a Child

Too often, we take ourselves too seriously. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to remember whose child we are. Jesus Himself said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14).

The innocence and spontaneity of children's laughter are gentle reminders of the pure joy inherent in being a child of God. Witnessing a child giggle is infectious, a gentle nudge to embrace life’s simple pleasures.

We can learn from their carefree laughter and approach each moment with the same lightheartedness and joy.

7. Laughter Changes Our Mood

Anger and laughter are not compatible. Laughter, the better choice, can transform an angry atmosphere, release tension, and foster optimism. It is a weapon, and Mark Twain described it as such: “The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” Laughter and enjoyment are gifts from the Lord, who “gives us everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

So, before counting to ten, try laughter next time you get angry!

Why Does This Matter?

A woman was going to church when her car suddenly broke down. With no time to waste, she quickly called for an Uber. When the driver arrived, she hopped in, eager to make it to church on time. As they made their way down the road, the woman conversed with the driver, asking him a question. However, her innocent inquiry was met with complete silence.

Puzzled by the lack of response, the woman leaned forward, gently tapping the driver on his arm to get his attention. Suddenly, the car swerved into the other lane, narrowly avoiding a collision, before skidding onto the shoulder of the road.

Shaken from the close call, the woman apologized, explaining that she hadn't meant to startle him. To her surprise, the driver chuckled softly and reassured her, "No, no, it's not your fault at all. You see, it's my first day driving for Uber. For the past 25 years, I've been behind the wheel of a hearse."

Laughter is woven into the very fabric of our existence, a reminder that life is meant to be savored and celebrated. So, let's laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter, and spread joy wherever we go. The psalmist beautifully says, "Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy" (Psalm 126:2).

God gifts us with laughter that heals, uplifts, restores, provides a new perspective and changes our mood. The Author of life is full of joy that spills over us — “in Your presence is fullness of joy.”

As the comic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Until next time, keep shining your light and spreading love and laughter like confetti.

And one more bad joke: “How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?”

“Ten-tickles.”

Photo Credit: ©Jamie Brown/Unsplash


SWN authorJudy McEachran loves to worship the Author of life and love. She is an ordained pastor and gifted musician who writes and speaks to encourage believers. She pastored churches in the Midwest and after retirement moved to Arizona. She is humbled not only by the gracious love of God but by her devoted husband, two sons, and ten grandchildren. You can visit her website at God Secrets that Impart Life. Find her music on YouTube. Judy’s natural musical giftings invite worshippers into the presence of the Lord.

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