“They came to the leader’s house, and he saw a commotion—people weeping and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.’ They laughed at him, but he put them all outside. He took the child’s father,mother, and those who were with him, and entered the place where the child was.” Mark 5:38-40
One of my favorite things to do is laugh. I love to laugh. I love to make others laugh. I love to listen to people laugh. I love to shock people into laughter. I love to be shocked into laughter. I love to double over laughing. I love to laugh so hard I snort. I love to laugh at people who snort. I. Love. Laughter. In my opinion, the world needs a lot more laughter. Can I get an “Amen!”?
I love to laugh.
As long as it is at the right time.
There is a right time to laugh and a wrong time to laugh. I want to err on the side of laughing too much, not too little. But I don’t want to laugh at the wrong times. Know what I mean?
Has it ever bothered you that moments after Mark tells us people were grieving outside Jairus’s house (his 12 year old daughter had just died), the same people laugh? One moment they grieve. One moment they laugh. As a pastor I have made more post-death home visits than I care to recount. The scene is always hard. Mournful. Quiet. Serious. Solemn. Never laughter, unless someone says something funny (and honorable) about the deceased.
It bothers me that the mourners at Jairus’s house laugh, seemingly seconds after they are found to be “wailing loudly.”
The longer I think about it, however, I wonder if I don’t often do the same thing? You see, they weren’t laughing because something was funny. They were laughing because they didn’t believe Jesus. They were ridiculing Him. They thought He was crazy. They thought He was insensitive. They assumed He was out of His mind. They weren’t laughing at an inappropriate time or joke. They were rolling their eyes because the circumstance demanded mourning, not hope.
I am not sure about you, but I tend to do the exact same thing.
I judge Jesus’ words and ability and power and glory by my surroundings. By my circumstances. By my feelings. By whether or not things went according to my plan. If it doesn’t seem or feel like Jesus is present and at work, I roll my eyes. I laugh. I mock. I dismiss. Like this fickle crowd, my hope revolves around whether or not things are going my way – not in the Person who is the Son of God.
Jesus is much more concerned that I believe HIM, than I am getting my way. Jesus wants me to know that His presence brings hope, when the circumstances scream despair.
The crowd at the funeral home that day rolled their eyes at the thought that they should be anything but grief. The Person and presence of Jesus, however, brings immediate and enduring hope.
What’s happening in your life that feels like a lost cause?
What causes you to dismiss hope?
What is bringing your soul despair, where you roll your eyes at the things of God?
To be sure – it is good and right and healthy to mourn and grieve and honestly make known your thoughts and feelings and emotions. Lean into them. Pay attention to your heart. Wrestle with, don’t push away, what your mind and heart are experiencing. But that’s the point, I think. Where is your ultimate hope? What is the goal of your comfort? Do you really believe Jesus is who He says He is? Do you really believe Jesus did what He said He would do? Do you really believe He is going to do what He promised to do?
I believe Jesus likes to laugh too. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell me that children wanted to be around Jesus. Children don’t like grumps. They like people who laugh a lot. That’s what His presence does. He doesn’t laugh at the wrong time. When the time is perfect, He turns our mourning into laughter. Our despair into dancing.
Jesus is in charge today. So go ahead snort. It might just cause someone else to snort too.