What have you laughed about today? Did you hear a good joke? See yourself in the mirror? We know laughter is good for us. A sense of humor is essential to help us cope in times like these. One college professor wrote that our attitudes and job productivity would improve if we laughed about forty three times a day. I’m not certain how he came up with that number, but it makes sense that we should laugh more. We don’t need research to tell us something so obvious.

Laughter isn’t enough. Neither is happiness. Both are dependent on the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We can be laughing one minute and crying the next. There is a lot about life that isn’t funny. Some laughter happens in moments of high stress or even tragedy. Have you ever been to a funeral and heard someone laugh? We deal with crisis in different ways.

For Christians, there is something deeper – it is the experience of joy. The Apostle Paul had reason to be bitter about his treatment at the hands of believers and non-believers alike. He constantly had to defend his call as an apostle to some in the church. He was attacked by those who did not accept his authority or his teaching. In 2 Corinthians, he wrote about his many trials (11:22-33) and his thorn in the flesh (12:6-10). He had a difficult path to serve the Lord.

In one of his last letters, he passed along the lessons he had learned and the choice he had made. He chose joy. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:3, NLT). Joy is the abiding sense that God is in control; that we belong to Him as joint heirs with Christ Jesus; that His grace is sufficient for whatever we face.

Try this: instead of picturing the anger of Christ when He confronted hypocrisy and injustice, or the agony of Christ when He hung on the cross, think of Him surrounded by children … consider His emotions when He healed someone. You cannot help but see the joy and hear the laughter.

Come on, make a joyful noise. Laugh it up.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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