Alexander Sanders, daughter Zoe, expressing emotions, funeral, it is OK to laugh, Kent Hughes quote, Luke 6:21, Luke 6:25, not attacking laughter, party, pet turtle died, Proverbs 17:22, superficial shallow humor, unable to discern sarcasm, weep and laugh at the appropriate time
“Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.”
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” Luke 6:21,25
Jesus is not attacking laughter and promoting sadness. If Jesus was attacking laughter, I would be in deep trouble! I like a little levity. I don’t think Jesus wants His followers to be grim, dull, sad, and joyless. “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22.)
What Jesus is attacking is the superficial, shallow humor which characterizes most of the world. I believe apart from knowing God we are unable to weep over the right issues and conversely, we laugh about the wrong events. We were designed to both laugh and cry. What, when, and how we express those emotions is the issue. Comedians know the best joke material is found in the serious situations of life. Situations which should make us cry, they turn into funny material. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing this on occasion. But when every situation becomes a joke and we are unable to discern the sarcasm… something is wrong.
Kent Hughes probably states it best in his book Luke: That You May Know the Truth. Vol. 1.
We are called to weep over lost souls, people who will go into eternal darkness without Christ. We are to weep over the world’s misery, over injustice that falls on so many helpless people, over the unfairness that victimizes the weak, child abuse, battered spouses, over marriages destroyed by adultery, over homes destroyed by divorce, over rejection, over those who laugh now but who, unless they turn to Christ, will suffer an eternity apart from God.
It is OK to laugh and make jokes. Jesus did when He called James and John “sons of thunder.” Jesus also cried over unbelief, the lost House of Israel, and the death of a friend. We too need to appropriately express our emotions. If not, we will also explode and eventually burn out.
Jesus warns of inappropriately expressing the wrong emotions at the wrong time. “Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.” (25) The type of laughter Luke is referring to is more than a quick chuckle. This type of laughter indicates a satisfaction and a contentment in which we believe life is flowing correctly. Listen to how The Message paraphrases this verse. “It’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games, There’s suffering to be met and you’re going to meet it.”
Jesus’ call is for all to laugh and weep at the appropriate time. The disciple of Christ is to be sensitive to both good and evil in the world. Sometimes it means we are to weep over what is absent around us, like love, justice, and peace. Praise the Lord, no condition is permanent. Even though sometimes it is difficult to discern if something “good” is happening… the Lord assures us He is in control. Eventually He causes “all things to work together for good.” I believe the Lord will give us clues to know when we are to laugh and cry. One of the greatest pleasures in life is to be given the opportunities to laugh and cry with the Lord.
The story below demonstrates how desperately we desire to turn bad situations into good. Even at young ages we laugh and weep over the wrong situations.
Alexander M. Sanders, Jr., is the Chief Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals. When his daughter Zoe graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1992, he told this story that happened when she was just three years old. Sanders came home from work one day to find his home — and especially his young daughter — in a state of turmoil. Zoe’s pet turtle had died, and she was crying as if her heart would break.
Zoe’s mother had been dealing with the situation all day and declared that it was now Dad’s turn to try and make things better. Although he was successful both as a lawyer and a politician, who confidently faced all kinds of complex issues and problems every day, this seemed out of his league. The mysteries of life and death are difficult, if not impossible for the mature mind to fathom.
The task of explaining them to a three-year-old was completely beyond either his confidence or experience. But he tried. First, he told Zoe that they could go to the pet store and buy another one just like the one who had died. Even at three years old, Zoe was smart enough to know that a turtle is not a toy. There’s really no such thing as getting another one just like the one who died. And so Zoe’s tears continued.
Desperate to quiet his little girl’s tears, he said, ‘I tell you what, we’ll have a funeral for the turtle.’ Being three years old, she didn’t know what a funeral was. Scrambling to come up with an explanation — as well as something that would get her mind off the turtle’s demise, he said, ‘A funeral is like a birthday party. We’ll have ice cream and cake and lemonade and balloons, and all the children in the neighborhood will come over to our house to play. All because the turtle died.’ Well, the prospect of a turtle funeral did the trick. Instantly, Zoe was her happy, smiling self. The turtle’s death was no longer cause for tears, but reason to rejoice. So, with visions of cake and ice cream in their heads, the two beamed down on the deceased turtle lying at their feet. As they did, the turtle began to move. And a few seconds later, he was crawling away as lively as — well, as lively as a turtle, but an undeniably LIVE turtle.
Then an even stranger thing happened. Sanders — a politician and a lawyer — was speechless. Zoe had no such problem. She still wanted her funeral party. After considering her options, she looked up at her father with her big beautiful eyes and — with all the innocence of her tender years — she said quietly, ‘Daddy, Let’s kill it.’”