Barney the cat with his grumpy face in the snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Did you know you have permission to laugh?

When was the last time you had a bad day? I mean a really bad day. One of those days when everything goes wrong, when you can’t seem to do anything right, when all you want to do is go home and curl up with a cup of tea and a book and escape your life.

Ever had a day that bad? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there. Everyone has. It’s not every day (if it is, you have bigger problems), but the days that you want to quit are sometimes just more than you think you can take.

What do you do on those days? Do you have a plan, a strategy for fighting back on days when you don’t want to fight anymore?

Barney the cat with his grumpy face in the snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Barney the cat with his grumpy face in the snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 26:1-6.

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
    it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,
    and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
    “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
    What joy!

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
    will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
    but they sing as they return with the harvest.

People don’t laugh enough. That’s my personal opinion, but I think just about everyone will agree with me. People–God’s children included–don’t laugh often enough.

And I’m not talking about derisive laughter or about forced laughter. I’m talking about laughter that comes from joy, from the sheer mind-blowing joy of knowing God.

When was the last time you were stressed out about something? When was the last time you were ready to quit your job? Do you have answers for those?

Okay. So when was the last time you laughed like it didn’t matter who heard you? When was the last time you laughed until your sides hurt? When was the last time you had to wipe the tears out of your eyes because you’ve been laughing so hard you started crying?

And, no, that kind of laughter isn’t bad or irreverent or disrespectful. I mean, it can be. Of course, it can be. Anything good and pure can be corrupted. But laughter by itself isn’t wrong. Laughter is something more of us need to spend time doing.

Why?

Have you ever been down or depressed or sad? I have. And in those moments, everything feels so dark. I feel isolated. I feel like I’m the only person in the world. And then someone makes me laugh. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of laughter–just a chuckle. Just something that makes me smile. And it’s like the sun comes out, and all of a sudden I can remember that life doesn’t suck all the time. There are bright spots–more bright spots than dark spots if I’m being honest.

That’s what joy does. Joy helps us refocus, helps us clear the cobwebs of depression and sadness out of our brains for a little while and remember that we’ve actually got it pretty good.

Are you down today? Are you sad? Call someone. Or text someone. Someone you know will be happy or joyful or cheerful. Someone who has light in them. Maybe you don’t know that person well, but I’m sure you know someone like that. Just take a moment and talk. It’ll help. Let yourself laugh a little. Stop taking life and all its many issues so seriously, and give yourself permission to laugh.

You aren’t doing yourself any favors by running yourself into the ground. You aren’t helping the people around you either when you stress yourself out just to get your work done. No, take the time to laugh. Take the time to enjoy your life and the people in it. And I would be willing to bet that your ratio of good days to bad days will change.

Your bad days won’t go away. Don’t expect that. But how you look at them will change.

We all have bad days. We all have sorrows. But God’s promised in so many ways that sorrow won’t last forever and bad days eventually end.

Make the choice to be joyful. Give yourself permission to laugh. And pretty soon you’ll be able to honestly proclaim what amazing things God has done for you.

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