“Laughter is good medicine.”
Perhaps you’ve heard this expression. Did you know it’s true? Did you know it’s from the Bible?
It’s compressed a little bit, but the basic thrust of Proverbs 17:22 is still present:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.Proverbs 17:22
New International Version
In this season of recovery from the fallout of the Pandemic, we are starting to grasp the emotional, spiritual, behavior, societal, and economic fallout from being in lock down. In many ways, we are witnessing people whose spirits have been crushed and bones are now dry.
This idiom of having “dried bones” refers to the weight we feel when facing emotional hardship. Discouragement, frustration, and anxiety weigh down the spirit. It pulls at us. Have you ever been so sad your bones ached? That’s what the author of Proverbs 17:22 is talking about.
When our spirits are crushed, we feel like we need to look up to see the bottom of our feet. Emotional, spiritual, and behavioral calamity causes everything else in us to respond. People have been so grieved their chests hurt.
As I am writing this, I have just finished my weekly meeting with pastors and ministry leaders in our area. It was via Zoom and no, it’s not the same as in person, but that’s not allowed just yet (at the time of this writing, that is). Yet, we ended up having a good laugh at something we were talking about.
And I don’t mean a chuckle or a giggle. I mean a head-thrown-back, teeth-showing, belly-shaking, full-bodied laugh. And it was everyone on the call. For several minutes.
You could see it in the faces on that Zoom call: “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Our laugher released a flurry of chemicals in our brains that changed our entire outlook. It was medicinal to us.
Did it change the circumstances we’re witnessing everyone going though? Did it reduce the anxiety our congregations are feeling about all this? Did it alter the outlook of folks around us who have lost jobs, businesses, and emotional health?
But a cheerful heart was good medicine nevertheless.
So, when you find yourself feeling down—about the shutdown, recovery, or anything you’re facing—find something to make you laugh. Maybe it’s a child, funny movie, comic strip, or a friend. But just laugh.
Laugh hard—get your whole body into it!
Laughter is good medicine.