Saturday, February 26, 2011

Life Seasonings - Principle 5 of 10

Principle 5:  Have a good sense of humor 
(Learn to laugh)

It is medically known that some human diseases are psychosomatic in nature where symptoms of the sufferers are caused by mental processes rather than immediate physiological causes. In other words, it is the problem of the mind, caused by stresses of modern day living that manifest itself in a physical way, although nothing is wrong physically with the person. A 1996 Malaysian national health study found mental illness to be prevalent in about 10.7% of the population. This is a scary thought that 1 in every 10 Malaysian are mentally ill to some extent. The facts seem to indicate a surge in mental illness due to the ill effects of urbanization, stress and poor mental health.

The Bible has already addressed this. Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Science has long ascertained that our minds and bodies are interrelated. The Bible takes it one step further to say so are our spirits. 1 Thessalonians 5:23b May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 139:14a I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies are truly amazing creation of God that is able to heal itself. If you accidently cut yourself, or your mouth starts to have an ulcer, you can be assured that a few days later, the affected area will be well covered up by new skin and the germs that have gotten into the body annihilated. Doctors will tell you that if you are positive in outlook during an illness, half your battle is already won. When we are joyful in the spirit, the mind senses that on its radar screen and releases chemicals in our bodies that are instrumental in enhancing the immune system to help fight diseases in our bodies. The ravages of processed and chemical-laden food, coupled with man-made pollution and stressed of modern living, have reduced these fighting capacities of our bodies. While these may be hard to control, the joy of the Lord is within our reach. Nehemiah 8:10 “ …. the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

A cardiologist in India has even started a laughing club to cope with modern stresses. Club members gather together early in the morning or during lunch breaks, do some stretching exercises and then just laugh together after that for forty minutes. This phenomenon of the healing power of laughter has now spread to more than 1300 clubs worldwide and it simply goes to show that we don’t laugh enough nowadays.

This is not an article to explain the miracles of our human body, but rather to emphasize the point that there is within us the fruit of the spirit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Joy must come from within, in spite of challenging circumstance without. Christians are to be the ones that exhibit the peace of the Lord in all situations. God has exhorted us not to be worried or anxious about life, but to trust God in all circumstances (Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Peter 5:7). Life is difficult enough with its daily problems and if we don’t develop a good sense of humor about life, even to laugh candidly at ourselves some times, we are in for a heavy and depressing ride. Often we tend to think of our Lord Jesus as someone who is sober and magnanimously stern. Seldom do we imagine Jesus laughing with his disciples. Yet I really do believe they often laugh together in their journeys. If you read the Gospels somewhat in between the lines, in the light of the wits and humor of our Lord Jesus in dealing with different people, you will be surprised to know that Jesus was no stranger to the role of humor in lifting deadly weight of burdens from our shoulders. Try imagining Jesus explaining Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Try Matthew 17:24-27 or Matthew 23:24 (Camels’ jokes!) where Jesus pictures the legalistic Pharisees as fastidious diners, doing their best to strain a gnat from their soup, but swallowing a whole camel in the process. In Jesus’ spoken language of Aramaic, the humor is even more pronounced where the word for gnat is galma, while the word of camel is gamla. See the pun? To prove my point, there are three books I know that has these titles: The Humor of Christ (Elton Trueblood, 1964); The Humor Of Jesus: Sources of Laughter in the Bible (Earl Palmer, 2001); The Humor of Jesus (Henri Cormier, 1977).

The point is, often, we see Christians with long solemn faces. Fun, joy, laughter and humor are the exception rather than the norm. I believe we all need a good sense of humor in our lives. Learning to laugh at yourself is good start. Life will be much easier! Cheers!

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