Laughter the best medicine

james lyons

Celebration colours; photos or other mementos that recall happy times, fun and laughter.


O God, creator of all.
I see you at the birth of time
excited and joyful, thrilled by the splendour and beauty
of what was about to be.
Even before that moment you could not contain your delight,
knowing the gifts you had in store
for the world you already greatly loved.
I think you laughed us into being,
your excitement bubbling over in your eagerness
to give and to give, to love and be loved.
As parents rejoice in their children, you think the world of us.
We are in your continuing care; keep our hearts filled with joy.

Wisdom speaks as creator

I was by his side, a master craftsman,
delighting him day after day,
ever at play in his presence,
at play everywhere in his world,
delighting to be with the children of men. [Proverbs 8:30-31]

The delight of God is evident in the Genesis story of creation and there is humour in the way the story (two accounts of creation; chapters 1 & 2) unfolds.

The variety of life, the abundance of gifts – and, of course, God’s realisation that “the man” would need a partner.

It’s hard to have a joke on your own or to achieve anything well!

This time of self-isolation is showing us how important, indeed vital, is companionship and community.

The expression, “Laughter is the best medicine” is of biblical origin – see Proverbs 17:22 – so it should be expected that laughter, enjoyment, fun, accompanied Jesus and the disciples on their journeys.

Think of the Cana wedding and the laughter and joy that would have filled the occasion, especially with all that extra wine!

Read John 2:1-10

Place yourself as one of the guests.  Enjoy the moment.

There are countless expressions that serve wisdom with humour.  Many of our own will likely be ingrained as habits, the wisdom and perhaps even the humour in them quite forgotten.  This is a time to recall them, and to ponder them anew.

The Book of Proverbs is rich with expressions that, at first glance, may seem without humour, but try these reasons given by a person too lazy to get out of bed and go out to work: There’s a lion outside! and I shall be killed in the street! [Proverbs 22:13] – and there’s dry humour a few verses on: Oppress the poor and you enrich him; give to the rich and you make him poor! [vs 16].

Look for others…

There’s a wealth of humour in our everyday speech:

You’re as much use as an ashtray on a motorcycle!

I’m as happy as a tin of worms returning from a fishing trip! …you won’t have to search far to find others.

Children can come up with some beauties, like the answer a child gave when asked by its parent, trying to instil reverence in church, Do you know why it’s important to be quiet in church and not to fidget? – ‘Cause everyone’s asleep!

Wisdom combined with humour can be sensed in this challenging comment: The earth comes rent free, complete with running water, central heating and air-conditioning.  All the landlord asks in return is that we keep it clean!

Back to the scriptures, and who could not see the humour in Balaam’s conversation with his donkey in Numbers 22:21-30?

Humour reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.  This is not exactly scripture, but G K Chesterton wrote: Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.

“Laughter is indeed God’s therapy.  Let us then be thankful that, when the gates of heaven swing open, mixed with the celestial music there is the unmistakable sound of celestial laughter.” [Malcolm Muggeridge]

Jesus is the smile of God

He came to reveal to us the loving goodness of heavenly Father.
We need God’s smile to strip us of our own certainties
and to bring us back to enjoying simplicity and gratuitousness. [Pope Francis’ Christmas message, 2019]

Prayer of thanks for laughter

Thank you, loving God, for the gift of laughter that

  • lifts spirits, lightens heavy hearts
  • makes friends, softens sadness
  • boosts morale, sharpens minds
  • relieves tension, gives enjoyment
  • energises, encourages, entertains.

Thank you, creator God, for the laughter within us that

  • contributes to health
  • cheers the weary
  • helps build community
  • challenges minds
  • is uniquely ours.

Thanks for the laughter, God of wonder and joy.
You have made us in your image, so we know that
laughter is part of your being.  Help us to stay
light-hearted In this strange and worrying time
and to honour your gift,
bright and cheerful,
loving, respectful.


Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy. [Psalm 100:1]

So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people
under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves,
for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life
that God gives them under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 8:15]

Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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