When discouragement causes us to feel depleted, considering the medicinal effects of laughter can prove beneficial. Disappointment is simply a part of our world whether it’s jobs, careers, family, romance, school, church, justice, health or anything else. Life will let us down at some time and on some level. When it does, we may be surprised by the therapeutic results laughter can deliver.
My daughters are all grown up now, but I remember marveling how one of my daughters in her youth handled disappointment. It struck me because I thought it unusual for such a young person to redirect hurt feelings in such a resilient manner. When someone would let her down, she would simply say something funny with a sarcastic edge. It was never mean-spirited, only dry and quite honest. For instance, if someone with antagonistic motives said to her “you’re not invited” she might reply “of course, why break tradition now” then chuckle to herself and move on. She enjoyed her own sense-of-humor, and the more disappointment she faced the greater her comedic repertoire became. Our whole family would turn our gaze on her in anticipation of the witty words and facial expressions that would come at these opportune times. I found my daughter’s responses to disappointment very inspiring. I watched her charge ahead in the face of the kind of discouragements that would get most people down.
A time stealer
Because there tends to be so much let-down in life, we must learn how to handle disappointment or risk becoming debilitated. Consider Zerubbabel. He was called by God to rebuild the temple but faced such great opposition his efforts became discouraged, and work stopped on the project for 15 years. (Scripture reference) That’s a long time! Some things never change. Satan still fires arrows of discouragement in seasons of disappointment hoping to bring us to a halt.
This is how it happens: the devil shoots his arrow, and the breakdown process begins the moment we take that arrow deep into the heart. My daughter’s humorous responses were like a shield deflecting direct contact of this kind. It didn’t mean the arrows would not come, but rather when they did, they were not able to penetrate as anticipated.
Bill Cosby said it well, “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”
As Christians we are taught the same method only our shield is different, more powerful. It is the shield of faith. We must with faith — in the same way my daughter used humor — deflect the arrow’s trajectory in times of disappointment.
These arrows are also described as flaming; “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).
They are meant to consume and burn away our time, motivation, joy and confidence. Have you ever noticed your inspiration seems to go up in flames when you become discouraged? Maybe you have experienced this kind of disappointment and the disabling process that followed. Trust me, it’s not your imagination; these blazing darts can have devastating effects.
The shield of faith and benefit of laughter
Disappointment will come. We cannot stop it. But, will you be ready with a good defense? Are you feeling its heat right now? Remember first and foremost that faith will block the arrows of defeat. Pressing into The Lord at these times is the greatest refuge we have. And if at all possible, find opportunities to laugh; adding humor can instantly redirect pain. Laughter builds upon our confidence and lifts our spirits. Of course the feeling may not go away completely, but discouragement’s effects will be doused enough through prayer and faith for you to pick yourself up and press forward.
No wonder many health centers employ what is commonly referred to as humor therapy. There is so much evidence to support the healing effect laughter produces that hospitals regularly engage volunteers to visit patients for the purpose of making them laugh. They bring in prepared material such as funny movies and stand-up comedy or simply read whimsical books. Whether planned or spontaneous, finding humor in life can be helpful. Do you know someone who is discouraged? After praying for them, how about doing something fun with them or sharing something amusing? It’s okay for Christians to laugh. Remember laughter is God given and has tremendous medicinal benefits, both to your spirit and health. It increases oxygen flow to your heart, boosts your immune system and releases endorphins that help ward off depression. It may be just what the Good Doctor orders to help you through your day!
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength,” (Proverbs 17:22).
Paula Masters is the author of “Exceptional Bloom: Coming Alive After Fifty” and the founder of True Source Ministries, an online ministry to hurting women, found at tsmwomen.org. She stays connected with her readers on her “Over Fifty And Fabulous” facebook page and online at OverFiftyandFab.com.