WEEK 38: GOD’S SENSE OF HUMOR
When I was flailing around in sin and had no clue who God is, I think it would have made me want to know him more if someone had told me that God has a sense of humor. I thought of God as someone remote, living on a high and lofty mountain peak, and I never thought that a valley-dwelling sinner like me could ever relate to Him. I could conceive of a God who would spare me from His wrath or even pity me, but I could never have conceived of a God I could have a relationship with, a real and personal relationship. As I said, I think it would have helped.
Most of what I have learned about God’s sense of humor is from my experience of walking with Him for the last thirty-plus years. He has given me a look at my own ridiculous self many times, and we have had a good laugh about some of my more embarrassing statements made with absolute confidence that I was right, like these examples:
1. The time my son asked if we could attend a church near his school, and I emphatically said I NEVER would (I have learned not to use that word “never” in earshot of God, who is everywhere.) I told my son that I drove to that intersection six times a week over forty minutes from our house, and I was NOT going to drive there on Sundays as well. Then I visited the church one time to check it out because he was planning on attending a church retreat with a friend there, and I joined the next Sunday. I have loved this church more than I could ever have imagined. I learned the meaning of Proverbs 16:9 NKJV:
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
God always has the last laugh.
2. The many times I said I would NEVER write a blog : )
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples. Psalm 33:10
But I also learned many lessons from the Bible, and the overall lesson is that laughter is a good thing. Psalm 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Another thing I learned is that it really depends on what is in your heart whether your laughter is good or bad, wise or foolish. For example, when Sarah first overheard she was going to have a baby in her old age, she laughed in disbelief or at least underestimation of what God can do. Genesis 18 says:
12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
But later, she laughed an entirely different type of laugh. She speaks of the laughter of joy related to what God undoubtedly did in her life. In other words Genesis 21:6 became her testimony of God’s power and her absolute belief in His ability to do what He says He will do.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
Like Sarah, our joyous countenances and speech are often our most winsome testimony. Psalm 126:2 shows how God’s people testify this way:
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
One of my favorite ways God displays His sense of humor or irony is in His converations with people like Job, when He gives them a proper assessment of who they are and Who He Is. In short, with a few words, He puts them in their place. God does this in one of most beautiful passages in the Bible that starts in Job 38. Job has felt confident in his assumptions about God and how the world should work until God begins:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!” Job 38:4-5b
God goes on from there describing the wonders He has spun into place and asks Job where His part was in all this, clearly making Job see how ridiculous he has been.
I have had one of these, “Who do you think you are?” conversations with the Lord, and it is not fun, though I think we must be pretty comical to Him. One busy morning, I had a strong urging I was to witness to someone that day. I was reviewing all the people I would see that day and trying to get a clue from the Lord about which one He was trying to get me to engage with. When I came to one person, I quickly dismissed that person as someone who would never be interested in anything related to Christianity. Just as swiftly came the rebuke. I sensed God saying to me, “Who do you think you were when I found you?” When God turns the tables like this, we are convicted, sheepish, chastened, but purged. I had been this very person not so long ago. The irony was inescapable.
Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” If we ever start thinking we are wise, He can make us see how foolish we really are. We become the buffoon in the joke when we are tempted to be pompous or prideful.
But after the chastening and the purging, God promises us that He Himself will fill us with joy and laughter. Job 8:21 says, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
And finally in Luke 6:21, Jesus leaves us with the promise that laughter is part of the future He has planned for us:
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
I look forward one day to sharing a laugh with the Lord, a good laugh when all my sin and time of chastening are in my past.