Proverbs 14b

Entertaining Ourselves To Death.

“Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” – Proverbs 14:13 NLT

I love to laugh. I love to make people laugh. Laughter is contagious and, at times, therapeutic. It can lift the spirits and make difficult times more bearable. But laughter can’t change circumstances. As the Proverb above says, it can conceal a heavy heart, but it can’t heal one. Laughter may make you forget your troubles, but it can’t make them go away. There is nothing wrong with laughter. It is a gift from God. I think God has a sense of humor. But laughter was never meant to be a replacement for guilt, a narcotic to deaden our pain, or an entertaining diversion to replace the joy and peace that can only come from God. Think about how many times you’ve found yourself down in the dumps and so you’ve turned on the TV to provide you with a few moments of laughter. Or you’ve gone to a movie to forget about all your cares. For a few brief moments you’ve been able to forget about your problems and laugh. But when the TV show ends or the movie is over, you find yourself right back where you started. Nothing has changed. “When the laughter ends, the grief remains.”

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to watch TV or go to the movies. I’m simply suggesting that to attempt to cover up our problems with a fleeting fix of humor is going to have the same effect as a sugar high or a caffeine buzz. The post-laughter let-down is going to make our problems seem even worse than before. In our society, we are slowly entertaining ourselves to death. We fill our days with fun. We are constantly coming up with new and novel ways to entertain and distract ourselves. We get bored far too easily and we find ourselves like junkies looking for the next fix. Unable to cope with the realities of life, many have chosen to live on a daily dose of laughter and mindless entertainment. Rather than have to think about life, we turn on the tube and let it do our thinking for us.

As believers, we have a built-in system for monitoring our behavior and revealing the condition of our heart. We call it a conscience, and it’s overseen by the Holy Spirit Himself. Sometimes our heavy heart is the result of a guilty conscience. The Spirit is attempting to convict us of something. He is trying to reveal an area of our life that needs work. At times, He is trying to reveal sin in our lives so that we might confess it and receive forgiveness and healing. But rather than deal with it, we attempt to distract ourselves from it. We might even try to make light of it. But listen to what this Proverb says, “Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation” (Proverbs 14:9 NLT). When we feel the pangs of guilt, it’s so easy to make light of it, ignore it, or find something to distract us from it. But the guilt never really goes away. The Holy Spirit never stops doing His job.

Laughter has its place. Even the Proverbs remind us of that. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT). But that verse is reminding us that joy or rejoicing is like good medicine. Finding things to be truly joyful for refreshes our soul. This is not talking about mindless entertainment. So much of what we seek to produce “cheer” in our lives is like cotton candy – tasty for the moment, but of no lasting nutritional value. It’s all fluff and, in the long run, bad for you. True joy comes from God. You can’t manufacture it. Anything we seek from anywhere else will always prove to be a poor substitute.

Father, thank You for laughter. But never let me make it a replacement for true joy. Keep me from entertaining and distracting myself from what You are trying to do in my life. When I am down, remind me that what I need is You, not a good laugh. I need healing and holiness, not a dose of cheap hilarity.  Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

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