Humor (and a Spider Bite)

Yesterday was rather cold for us. Intentionally, we do not use heaters because I am prone to catching a cold when moving from hot to cold areas. I was dressed in jeans and a shirt with a fleece lined jacket. As I walked into the kitchen I felt something like a bite on the inside of my left elbow. I immediately put my right hand over the place of the “bite” and felt a rather huge lump. Immediately, my mind read this as a huge spider or a bug. At that moment, my cellphone rang. It was in a pocket at the top of my left arm in the jacket. I struggled to get the phone out, but that “spider” or “bug” was more important. I dropped the phone on the table, managed to get the jacket off, dropping it to the floor and struggled to open the button at the bottom of the sleeve. By this time I could not feel the “spider or bug” any more. As I pulled up the sleeve, a ball of cotton wool fell onto the floor. By this time, my phone stopped ringing and I burst out laughing. Jenny came running to see what was happening and burst out laughter when she heard my story. You see, I had been for my annual blood tests earlier in the morning. To stop the blood and cause it to congeal, they apply cotton wool held in place by plaster. I must have touched or rubbed the inside of the elbow … pulling the plaster which pulled on the arm hair causing what I thought was a bite. So the “bite” made me think the “bump” (the cotton wool) was either a spider or a bug. This was hilarious … I love humour and enjoyed a good laugh.

Habib Bourguiba says: “Happy is the person who can laugh at himself. He will never cease to be amused.” An article, “Youth Worker Update”, in the magazine Signs of the Times went like this: “While the average child laughs 150 times a day, say researchers at the University of Michigan, the average adult laughs only 15 times.” That says something! The average adult laughs 15 times a day whilst a children laughs 150 times a day. The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, was a character. His style was so loose he was criticized again and again for bordering on frivolity in the Tabernacle pulpit. Certain incensed fellow clergymen railed against his habit of introducing humor into his sermons. With a twinkle in his eye, he once replied: “If only you knew how much I hold back, you would commend me … This preacher thinks it less a crime to cause a momentary laughter than a half-hour of profound slumber.” He was a man who enjoyed humour and used it to keep members of the congregation awake!

Today is the 110th day we as a country are in lock down because of the coronavirus. Many people are struggling with this extended type of isolation. Many are struggling financially. Some have lost their businesses, others their careers. Families can’t see other families. The inability to purchase cigarettes (unless it’s on the black market) coupled to the re-banning of alcohol sales also affects people. Then there are people whose family members have been infected with Covid-19. Add the cold weather, and its no wonder that so many people have become depressed. So many are emotionally devastated. For most, there is no “real issue”, but for a few the concept of cabin fever is real … they feel imprisoned in their own homes. Often, a combination of these things could lead to short tempers, feisty attitudes and, sadly, other more serious behaviour. Like Spurgeon, I love humour … for me, the best part of humour is when I can laugh at myself. “Pr 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” The first application of this Proverb is that once you are forgiven and saved, you know the freshness of God in your heart. This affects your general attitude towards life, including your circumstances. A forgiven soul is able to weather the storms of life because the Lord Jesus stands by you. The ‘cheerful heart’ is a happy, joyful heart where Jesus reigns. But should this person backslide or wander from the comforts of grace, or if the person is unsaved, depression sets in and causes all sorts of trauma, both emotional and physical. The second application is that when the heart is cheerful, there is a happy spontaneity towards joy and happiness.

You see, facing the morbid environment of COVID-19 and its effects plus the cold weather might be extremely depressing for many people, but when the Lord Jesus enters the heart there is happiness and joy. The “cheerful heart” of the Proverb could mean laughter in the heart. The strange thing is that many people don’t look for the humorous things in life. Laughter does not necessarily come to you … sometimes you need to look for it. The way to look for true happiness and joy that leads to cheerfulness or laughter comes through spending time in God’s presence. The joy in the soul because of spiritual intimacy with Jesus lifts the spirit, causing you to look at life through new eyes, irrespective what the prevailing conditions might be. Just as misery is a choice, so are cheerfulness and happiness a choice. Look at where true joy and happiness comes from:

Ps 40:2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Dear God, forgive me for every time I have been miserable and depressed. Grant me joy in my heart because You reign there. Help me to see humour around me. More than anything, help me to sing your praises from a joyful and happy heart for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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