Written By Betsy Gwartney Catrett
The reoccurring sections of Reader’s Digest that our family looked forward to reading each month were “Humor in Uniform” and “Laughter the Best Medicine.” My father was a WWII Captain who trained pilots in the European theatre. His base of operation was in London during the time when it was being bombed by the Nazis. He came home on a hospital ship and then, after healing, finished out his military career in the United States in administration at various military bases in California and Florida. He never spoke to me of the horrors of what he experienced. What he did do was subscribe to Reader’s Digest and he also had joke books by his recliner in our home. At any point during a day, you could find him sitting there quietly laughing with tears streaming down his face because he was laughing so hard. The scriptures say, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine!” (Proverbs 15:13) and “The JOY of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Probably few, if any, of you reading this are in the military or have ever been in the military. But whether you know it or not you ARE in a battle. It’s a spiritual battle. John Piper is quoted as saying “Life is war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that. Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth. Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.” So how does one belly laugh in the face of war — when life is so hard, the cost of freedom is so high, “friendly fire” is so real, and you and your comrades are full of shrapnel and bleeding out emotionally and spiritually, (if not, also in poor health due to the social, familial, economical battles many face every day)?
I don’t know what you need for your particular family assignment, but for me I choose to focus on the bigger picture of progress (rather than completion) and of heaven (rather than just the present time on earth). I realize these two things: #1 We may not control our circumstances (as the choices others make oftentimes affect us as well), but we do control how we choose to look at them! #2 There is a range of emotions that fit with various things we go through and WE get to choose which one we allow most of our energy! Practically speaking, our focus affects our emotion. So what do we need to focus on?
My friends and I laugh at the absurdity of the evil’s manifestations and the injustices that advance our “case” in the legal courts of heaven. To understand this, let’s back up to a root of the problem. So many of our Christian denominations are framing life about preforming enough of their chosen “Good Christian Check List” that they win the vote of “a true salvation experience” from their co-church attendees. Rather than framing life as “We are human beings reaping the consequences of choices made by Adam and Eve (when they chose to reject their Creator’s design and define “good” and “evil” their own way – resulting in the spiritual death of their relationship with their God). And now all human beings are free to receive the spiritual life made possible in the legal courts of heaven by Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death. The next step would be to enter into the classroom of life (boot camp if you will) where one learns how to fight evil with the sword of God’s spirit (God’s Word) and our own spiritual birth testimony (Revelation 12:11) rather than fighting other human beings (Ephesians 6:12). Once we make that paradigm shift we begin to love people and fight evil by turning on the spot light of God’s word. THAT is FUN! Loving people instead of resenting, shunning, badmouthing them is WONDERFUL. Knowing our rights in the legal courts of heaven takes the sting out of the injustices and gives cause for laughter when they happen. Then, as James 1:2 says, we can “Count it all joy…”
Also, look at worst case scenario being heaven as your next stop? If that doesn’t cause your heart to do back flips then you might want to consider reading Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven. I love my family, my friends, my life here on earth. I can hardly wait for heaven. I’m in a win win situation. So I laugh. Belly laugh. In wartime. In pain. In injustices. In seeming hopelessness. In loss. I do this with my knowledgeable comrades who get it. Join us?
There is a fellowship in suffering that is unparalleled in a life without pain (Philippians 3:10). Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it and be a soldier of courage. Charge your enemy. Like David towards Goliath (I Samuel 17). Like Benaiah who went down into a lion’s den on a snowy day (I Chronicles 11:22). Then laugh in the face of loss. For the big picture of eternity, honor, privilege of serving in the army of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord. Laughter IS your BEST medicine and there IS Humor in Uniform!