There are few sounds more enjoyable than the sound of a child laughing. I heard that special sound recently when I was on a plane, seated next to a young couple and their little girl who was maybe a little over a year old. We hadn’t been seated long when the sound of laughter came. It was one of those from-the-belly, body-shaking, take-control-of-you kind of laughs. It was so fun to hear and to see the expression on her face.
Little kids laugh with a sense of freedom. They don’t worry about whether somebody might think they’re silly. If something strikes them as funny they laugh.
Adults can get overly serious about non-serious matters. I was criticized once for quoting from a comic strip in a magazine editorial I wrote. The issue wasn’t with what was quoted but that it came from a comic strip. It would have been good for the critic to read the comics himself. It might have helped him to laugh more and not be so serious all the time. Too often adults lose that simple, beautiful childlike joy.
Jesus said we are to “change and become like little children” (Matthew 18:3). We are first of all to become like little children in humble dependency on God. It’s good to become like little children also in feeling a freedom to laugh and cry.
“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. … The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:1-3). We’re not going to laugh much if we spend all our time thinking about what we have failed to do and what we ought to do. We’re invited, however, to fill our thoughts with the great things the Lord has done. That fills our mouths with laughter and joy.
The song “Blown Away” encourages joy by asking: “When did we get so serious? … I want to be blown away by your extraordinary grace every ordinary day.”
The little girl seated next to me on the flight didn’t laugh the whole time. At one point great sadness came upon her and she let that be known.
In Psalm 126 it speaks of mouths filled with laughter but it also talks about sowing in tears and going out weeping. Our journey through life has its times of sorrow. We can be hesitant, however, to express our sadness because we don’t want to appear weak and vulnerable. Christians worry sometimes that people will question the strength of our faith if we’re honest when we’re feeling down and discouraged.
At times we behave as if we are actors on a stage, afraid to reveal our true selves, looking to other people to give us cues as to what we are to do and whether it is time to laugh or to cry. Jesus sets us free to be real. He knows what we’re really like and still He loves us and died for us. We can be honest about our weakness, admitting it is Christ who gives us strength. We are set free to laugh and rejoice because we are loved by Jesus and our place in His family is secure by His grace. We sing the songs of joy, knowing they will never end.