I have found humor to be where you look for it. Those who laugh most expect to find humor; those who laugh little do not expect to find it, and so do not look for it and do not recognize it when it finds them. I am deeply indebted to my Heavenly Father, who made laughter, joy, humility, and truth, and my earthly father, who showed me how to laugh, laugh often, and make laughter a natural part of life.
Dad loved reading comic strips, cartoons, misspellings, bad grammar, and all other manner of humor. He introduced me to Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Reader’s Digest, Dave Barry, Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington Bear, and Lewis Carroll. And Mom was no stick-in-the-mud; Mom introduced me to Cary Grant, Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel, Gilligan and Co., James Herriot, Sigfried and Tristan, Sweeeet Vi-o-lets, and Inspector Clouseau. We would spend Sunday afternoons with full tummies listening to Dad read funny things until we were ready for naps. It was a great way to wind up the week and prepare for the next one.
Then my wife and I discovered Bananas Comedy Club DVDs featuring Darren Streblow, Tim Hawkins, Jon Branyan, Nazareth, Bob Nelson, and Ken Davis. All are Christians and very funny. Our kids love to watch them, and start repeating them. Then we were introduced to Brian Regan (“Take…luck! You, too!”), and we would never look at a cup of dirt the same way again.
There are so many troves of good, clean laughter that there’s really no excuse for not chuckling if you want to. But there are dangers to watch for. Not all humor is healthy. Not everyone thinks laughter is good. Some things must be treated seriously, but it is vital to know which things.
See, the heart of humor is the truth that God triumphs, that our mistakes and goof-ups don’t bring a certain end to all hope. Triumph comes in spite of the silliness, the embarrassment, the destruction, and the awkwardness. Our weaknesses show: we startle easily, we lose our balance, we aren’t as smooth as we hoped, and it really doesn’t fit us like it should. And it’s okay. So we laugh, free from our pretention and pride and fearful costuming, and full of trust in God’s power to make it right.
The joy found in humor cannot be found in the same company as the raunchy and gross, the disrespectful and cruel, or the immoral and tasteless. Self-control makes everything better, and points to God, the author of all joy. Likewise, humor cannot coexist with fear, despair, or guilt. Studies have shown that fear and gratitude cannot coexist in the same mind at the same time. St. Paul admonishes us to put aside all coarse jesting and filthiness, and instead embrace giving of thanks. Comedians should all be applauding this encouragement instead of joining the opposition to it, as so many modern attempts at humor have done.
Flippancy is not funny, either. The Bible directs us to rejoice with those who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep. Humor must be kept in its place, just as sorrow, anger, and other emotions must be limited, or we will cause pain to those around us. Humor was not intended for that.
Laughter makes you healthier, according to the Bible, and studies back that up. So for health, blessing those around you, glorifying God, relieving stress, finding humility and faith, and strengthening your sense of gratitude, happy treasure hunting! Go find something funny…and then share the joy.