The best medicine?
Laughter may not be the best medicine. And, let's get this out up front. The Covid-19 virus is no laughing matter. The many uncertainties of the coronavirus, the number of citizens who have contracted it, the potential of so many more being infected, and the resulting deaths are solemn reminders of its a tragic and mysterious sweep around our world. Few of us would laugh in the face of such a devastating pandemic. If there is any humor in it, it would be the human element, our response to quarantine time, isolation, stay-at-home orders, toilet paper shortages, personal cleanliness routines, and our waiting habits, to mention a few. Viewing the lighter side of life is a coping mechanism. Comic relief can lighten the load of watching the destructive force of this pandemic. Difficult and stressful times generate in the human spirit a need for diversion. Humor is often our pathway through grief, sadness, stress, and debilitating events.
May I share a personal observation. Last year our dad, affectionately known as The Chester, passed away at age 91. Our family watched his decline after a serious fall, months of disorientation, suffering, pain, and other difficulties. He was a great husband, father, and grandfather and we grieve his death, our mothers as well, every day. Everyone that knew him appreciated his influence---a deacon, Sunday School teacher, business and civic leader. One notable character trait was his rich sense of humor. When our family met to discuss his funeral service, we all agreed that his faith, commitment to our mother, and unselfish provision for his children would be the main topics of his memorial. We further decided that his humor would be an over-riding principle of the comments my brother Mike, brother-in-law David, and I prepared. Yes, we all mourned his death. The service was respectful and reverent. But, everyone in teh standing room only chapel laughed. The friends that spoke to me about the service agreed that it was him. The Chester had touched us all with his wonderful take on life. The comic relief guided us through a hard hour.
The people over in the psychology department teach us that laughter is a mighty scientific force. When we laugh endorphins and dopamine are released into our systems, the feel-good bodily chemicals. Recently I read a HuffPost article by Tasha Eurich about the science of laughter (You can read the article by clicking here). With many references and examples she reminded readers that laughter can help us "cope, find hope, and see problems in new ways".
Scripture identifies a cheerful spirit as an asset in life. Several verses from Solomon's Proverbs affirm this truth---
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15: 13, NIV
All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Proverbs 15: 15, NIV
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17: 22, NIV
This certainly doesn't mean that happy people won't suffer or experience the many exigencies of life under the sun. All of us will deal with the physical, emotional, and even spiritual maladies of human life. There will be pain, distress, disappointments, anger, questioning, relational complications, and mysteries that are complex and dreadful. On occasion, however, a light moment can be our life preserver, a thought that may lift us through something horrific.
Maybe it's just me, and I haven't been diagnosed with Covid-19, this pandemic has inspired hundreds of really funny memes, side-stories, and examples of the light touch. They give us comic relief as we wrestle with the many questions that assault us daily. Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it can be the prescription that guides us through difficult times.
Humor pill for the day---
Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November, all the rest have thirty-one Except March which has 8000
— brandAn is good (@LeBearGirdle)