by Charles R. Swindoll
Earthquakes! Prison riots! Economic pressures! Divorce! No jobs! Drugs! Disease! Death! Pretty serious scene, isn't it? Yet that is the emotional environment in which we live. No wonder someone has dubbed this the "aspirin age." Small wonder more of us are not throwing in the towel.
In spite of these bleak surroundings—or perhaps because of—I firmly believe we need a good dose of Solomon's counsel. Listen to David's wisest son: "A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. . . . All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. . . . A joyful heart is good medicine [the Hebrew says, 'causes good healing'], but a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Prov. 15:13, 15; 17:22).
Have you begun to shrivel into a bitter, impatient, critical Christian? The Lord tells us that the solution is simple: "A joyful heart" is what we need . . . and if ever we needed it, it is now.
By a sense of humor I mean that necessary ingredient of wit: those humorous, enjoyable, and delightful expressions or thoughts that lift our spirits and lighten our day. When we lose our ability to laugh—I mean really laugh—life's oppressive assaults confine us to the dark dungeon of defeat.
Personally, I think a healthy sense of humor is determined by at least four abilities:
The ability to laugh at our own mistakes.
The ability to accept justified criticism—and get over it!
The ability to interject (or at least enjoy) wholesome humor when surrounded by a tense, heated situation.
The ability to control those statements that would be unfit—even though they may be funny.
James M. Gray and William Houghton were two great, godly men of the Word. Dr. Houghton writes of an occasion when he and Dr. Gray were praying together. Dr. Gray, though getting up in years, was still interested in being an effective witness and expositor. He concluded his prayer by saying: "And, Lord, keep me cheerful. Keep me from becoming a cranky, old man!"
Let's ask our understanding Father to remind us frequently of the necessity of a cheerful spirit and to give us an appreciation for laughter.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.