Born to Laugh
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“Do not live in fear, little flock, it has pleased your Creator to give you the kindom.”
So writes Luke in his gospel, placing the words in the mouth of Jesus. I read that to say we were born for joy.
Paul would later write from his prison cell that we should rejoice in all circumstances.
Whatever there is in the words and actions Jesus has left behind for us to pour meaning into, I am left with little doubt that he wanted us to believe God created to live a life of joy.
He dealt with the pain he found in others. Some were poor, others oppressed, many marginalized, some in deep and lingering pain, and quite a few suffering from the indignity that attached to their class, race, or gender. He met their suffering with the call and capacity to heal and invited them into a life of joy.
For me, a life of ministry modeled after Jesus has always had two essential components: learn what it is that is causing another’s suffering then help them discover their pathway to joy through it.
There is a musical group out of Cincinnati called Over the Rhine. They are a married couple who play these stripped down but beautiful melodies with such deep spiritual content. His inventive piano riffs and her sultry voice make for a powerful combo.
Easily my favorite song of theirs is one simply called “Born.” It opens with what I think is a beautiful summation of the gospel: “I was born to laugh.”
I love that!
Like Jesus, though, they don’t just throw a false sense of joy onto a life filled with pain. Denial is a way to deal with suffering, but it doesn’t heal. It only delays a greater pain that our defense mechanisms can’t hold back. The line that follows “I was born to laugh” is “I’m going to learn to laugh through my tears.”
That’s life right there: pain and joy always accompany each other. Like Paul said, we have to come by our joy in and through all circumstances. We don’t arrive at joy when the pathway through suffering has ended. We always have to get there even when pain and suffering are present.
We don’t come by that easily or even naturally. We are taught to hide our pain. We are taught to ignore suffering and tough it out. When they write in the song “I’m going to LEARN to laugh through my tears” they are reminding us we have to overcome the impulse to pretend we don’t hurt. We have to face into the suffering, own it, and learn that even in the midst of it God can visit us with joy.
Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil – for you are at my side.
Do not live in fear.
You were born to laugh – you are going to learn to laugh through your tears.
There will be tears aplenty on this journey we take through life. May we all discover in and with each other pathways to joy when the tears fall on this, our journey Into the Mystic.
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