The Medicine of Laughter

A Riddle for You

Can you solve this riddle? Can you answer it quickly?

  1. Some people like rabbits. What do rabbits do? Hop. H-O-P.
  2. Some people work as police. What is another word for a policeman? A cop. C-O-P.
  3. Some children like to play with a little toy that spins around on the floor. What do you call it? A top. T-O-P.
  4. Some people drive cars and trucks. What should they do at a green light?

Did you give the right answer? If not, I hope that you got a chuckle or laugh out of it. It’s good to laugh sometimes!

The Importance of Laughter

Proverbs 17:22 makes it very clear that appropriate laughter is a good thing.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. (Prov. 17:22, NKJV)

From this verse, it appears that laughter and good humor has a positive effect on your whole person, including your physical health. Why is this important? Because challenges in life, especially challenges in your relationships with people and spiritual challenges, can steal your joy and gladness. The verse before illustrates this for us.

Challenges in life, especially in relationships, can steal your joy and gladness.

He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy. (Prov. 17:21)

What is the cause of sorrow and sadness here? A son, a grown child who makes foolish choices.

But whether we’re talking about sons or daughters, friends, people you love, people you minister to, or people you know some other way – realize that strain in a relationship brings sorrow, and this sorrow and sadness will wear you down.

A sad, sullen spirit weakens you physically. Proverbs 17:22 mentions a negative effect on your bones. This may be a technical point, or it may be a poetic allusion to physical health in general. But either way, sullenness, sadness, sorrow and stress can certainly have a negative effect on a healthy, vibrant life.

A sad, sullen spirit weakens you physically.

Now it is impossible to guarantee that you will never get sick. Everyone battles illness somewhere along the line. It’s part of life in a fallen world. But even when you are sick, a merry, glad spirit will carry you through and strengthen you in spite of your illness.

The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit? (Prov. 18:14)

A glad heart also affects your countenance, the way that you look to others. Do you look sad? Do you have a stern, hard appearance? Do you look scary and unapproachable? Or are you happy? Your facial countenance reflects the condition of your heart.

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (Prov. 15:13)

There is nothing admirable or spiritual about a perpetual somber attitude. A man names Isaac Williams once remarked that “religious gladness is a positive duty and low spirits are a sin.” Do you agree?

There is nothing admirable or spiritual about a perpetual somber attitude.

A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh

There is certainly a time to weep, just as much as there is a time to laugh (Eccl. 3:4). The mature, stable Christian experiences both. Do you?

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Beware of sadness that lingers and doesn’t go away. But at the same time, beware of inappropriate humor.

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Eph. 5:8, NKJV)

Learn to appreciate good humor, now more than ever. As God’s children, let’s insist on being merry. Let’s insist on being glad. Let’s insist on this and praise God for His goodness, no matter what happens. No matter how we feel. Why? Because the blessing of God-given humor does good like a medicine. And we all need some.


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