Laughter is good for the soul. Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired” (The Message).
Hardship leaves you soul weary. It can rob you of your joy. Hardship can tarnish your view of the goodness of God. But laughter and fun can restore the goodness of God to the center of your soul.
A number of years ago I came out of a season where I was deeply discouraged. I fought for four promises from God every day. Every day I prayed for them, believed God for them and fought for them. One of the promises came through the audible voice of God. Another came in a dream – it was a promise for revival – and the dream had a sign (that the New Orleans Saints would win the Super Bowl). The sign had come true. But the promise hadn’t.
I was so weary from battling and holding on and believing and feeling disappointed that for the first time in my life I wrestled with the question: Does God lie? It wasn’t an intellectual question. It wasn’t a Biblical dilemma. I could give the right answers and quote the right verses. It was an emotional struggle. I felt betrayed, lied to, by God. He had promised, but He hadn’t delivered.
I called my friend, Ron Walborn and spent a day with him to process my disappointment and grief. Good friends don’t try to fix you. They just love you. They don’t try to give you answers. They just sit with you. Ron listened. He let me vent. He processed with me. At the end he said one thing that didn’t sound very spiritual but turned out to be critically important to my spiritual jeouney through darkness. He said, “Bud, You believe this stuff to your toes. Keep preaching it. And you know you are an intense guy. You need to have more fun.”
Indeed, I knew I was intense. I am a passionate person. The great thing about being passionate is that you believe things deeply and are motivated to leave the world a different place. The difficult thing about being passionate is that the more passionate you are, the more disappointed you can be. Passionate people expect more from life and are disappointed more in life, especially as they get older. Most mid-life crisis are merely a matter of accumulated disappointments that have gone unprocessed. I had accumulated my share.
That conversation with Ron led me to a decision. I decided I was going to be as intentional about fun as I was about work. I scheduled fun into my calendar. And every time I engaged in something that was fun, I did it with a grateful heart. Jen and I went to rock concerts like Billy Joel, Journey, The Eagles. And I gave God thanks for music as I thoroughly enjoyed it. We visited new places – places of stunning beauty and I gave God thanks for every beautiful thing I beheld. We ate great food with a grateful heart. I hung out with great friends and soaked in the friendship and heartily enjoyed the laughter. I spent more time with friends who made me laugh, more time doing things that made me smile, more time enjoying the good things of life with a grateful heart.
And slowly, I was surprised to discover, that participating in fun with a grateful heart restored the goodness of God to the center of my soul. Psalm 34:8 says taste and see that the Lord is good. How do you taste and see that the Lord is good? You can’t lick him. But you can participate in good things with gratitude. Every good gift is from above – James tells us. Hardship tarnishes our view of the goodness of God. Having fun with gratitude. Good friends, good laughs, good times, with a grateful heart can restore the goodness of God at the center of your soul. Try it. Stick to it. And see. Add some fun to your life as a spiritual discipline and taste and see that the Lord is good.