The Dancing Puritan

Friday, January 11, 2013

Someone to Laugh With: Thoughts on Friendship

C.S. Lewis laughing

A powerful adhesive that welds friends together is laughter.  Perhaps you can recall seeing a friend again, after years of being separated, and laughter was the first response.

What would life be without jovial outbursts? Yes, I know life is serious business.  It gets more serious as we get older.  The bills keep coming.  Something is always broken.  Sickness is a frequent companion. Relationships are often strained.  We would die sooner, I am convinced, without intervals of laughter.  Seriousness and humor are not at odds with one another.  They are friends that should hold hands.

Charles Spurgeon was told a joke by a friend as they walked together.  Spurgeon laughed uproariously.  He then paused and said, "Theodore, let us kneel down and thank God for laughter."

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven;...a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

Laughter is a good gift from God and may be accompanied by dancing.  It is a gift that brings healing to brittle bones and it is a medicine that revives dying hearts.

A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

Laughter is not something that can be forced into a schedule and placed on a "to do" list.  It is not a programed activity.  Rather it is rooted in the knowledge of God who... richly provides us all things to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17).

C. S. Lewis wrote, "You cannot study pleasure in the moment of the nuptial embrace, nor repentance while repenting, nor analyze the nature of humour while roaring with laughter."

A merry heart is evidenced through eyes that see, ears that hear, taste buds that taste, and feet that dance, all from a heart that has been set free by grace.  Perhaps this is best evidenced in friendships.  

God is portrayed in the Bible as a builder, protector and as one who gives refreshment (Psalm 127).  Life is not designed to be driven by anxious toil.  Faith in God is faith that he is good and part of that goodness is reflected in the gift of laughter.  Anxiety wars against the joyful heart.  It says that God cannot be trusted and that life is too hard and too short to waste on humor.  

Friendship comes to the aid and gives a release from building pressures, but more than that; friendships provide a spring to one's step and puts a song in one's heart.

A true friend will laugh with you and will give you reason to laugh.  They will also give freedom to laugh in their presence. The freedom to laugh with a friend is air to the lungs and wind beneath wings.

I have often been around people who seemed to have no ability to laugh. They portrayed a sense of perpetual sadness. The laughter, that perhaps they had once known, was dead.  You see it in marriages.  Couples that were drawn together in moments of tear producing laughter, no longer laugh. Part of the revival of such a marriage is the revival of laughter.

I remember a sort of nonsensical statement that a friend and I used to share when we were in college, "If you can't laugh, it's pretty sad."  That statement was followed by an outburst of laughter.

In friendship laughter is cultivated, welcomed and appreciated.  Like Spurgeon we should hit our knees more often after a good joke or funny occurrence and thank God for the gift of laughter.

Friendship, after all, is having someone to laugh with.