Dwight Fletcher | Yes, I Can Laugh Again - Part II
Over the last month, we have been on a journey together to rediscover and reclaim our hopes, dreams and aspirations. It has been a wonderful discovery of God's plan for our lives and His intention for us to have and experience the best. This week, we continue with the second part of 'Yes, I Can Laugh Again', rediscovering together what the Bible says about happiness and laughter.
The Bible and science agree that laughter promotes health and healing; reduces tension and helps us through difficult times. God encourages us to be joyful. He encourages glee because He is happy and He wants us to be happy. In fact, the King James version has 240 instances of the word 'rejoice.'
Yet, Jamaica ranked 76th in the 2017 World Happiness Report, and research indicates that people in the Western Hemisphere are less happy than they were 10 years ago. What has happened to our laughter, happiness and joy?
We are living in a world that teaches us to chase happiness in things like academic excellence, a house on the hill, and a well-paying job. These are good things, but the singular focus on these activities are really robbing us of our laughter, our happiness, and our joy. And, we need laughter, happiness and joy that finds its source is God.
We must cultivate habits of happiness. To do this we:
1. Cultivate a relationship with God: God is the source of fulfilling laughter that comes from genuine happiness. Outside of Him we cannot truly be happy, so we must cultivate our relationship with Him.We are in the habit of searching every other place for happiness but God, and they all fail. Other sources like:
a. The picture-perfect life. Happiness is not something we discover only after our jobs, our grades, our looks or our marriages are perfect. If that were the case, none of us would ever experience happiness because the world is imperfect and always will be.
b. Chasing wealth. Studies confirm it over and over again: once our most basic needs have been met, money contributes very little to our overall happiness.
c. Looking out for Number one. Living selfishly for our own personal gain will never produce lasting happiness and fulfilment. Our lives are designed to be lived for something far greater.
God is the answer to the longing of our souls as Isaiah 59:2 NIV says, "...your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you...". We want to be happy and God is the source, but our sins stand in the way. We have to tell and show God that we are sorry, that is, confess our sins to Him and repent of them. Then believe that His Son Jesus Christ is the only way to Him and to our happiness. Jesus said: "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." John 10:10 NLT.
2. Cultivate a follower's heart: For those of us who are already saved, we have to follow God's lead and do things His way. "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 NIV. Learning to get a thrill out of God, involves hearing, reading, studying, memorising and meditating on His Word. It also involves doing and actively living as God dictates. This includes forgiving. There are people who are suffering physically because they are angry, bitter and refuse to forgive.
Envy rots the bones. "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Proverbs 14:30
Anger rots the bones. Unforgiveness rots the bones. Bitterness rots the bones.
Maybe if you wonder why you're not doing well, and why you can't sleep at night, and why you have stomach aches, headaches, backaches, and why you just don't feel good, look in the mirror and what you'll see is an angry person. Until you do something about your anger and bitterness, you're going to be sick because the Bible says it will happen that wayit will literally rot your bones.
3. Cultivate friendships with cheerful people: Some of us are messed up because we are hanging around messed up people. Find some cheerful people to help make you cheerful. "Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up," Proverbs 12:25 NIV. Serving others can help you to form meaningful bonds. Find a place where you can lift each other's loads. Galatians 6:2 NIV says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ." We were made to share our lives with each other.
You can live a life filled with deep and genuine laughter by cultivating the habit of happiness through a meaningful relationship with God. It's good for your health and also for your relationships. We started talking about laughter by saying that The Bible teaches that a relaxed, happy attitude actually lengthens a man's life, and uncontrolled negative emotions will shorten it. Determine today to live a balanced life with lots of laughter, good friendships and above all, a strong relationship with God. Then you can say, "Yes, I can... laugh again!"