"Laughter is good medicine." Maybe you've heard that saying, and maybe you've had opportunity to test it and see if it's true. There have been studies done about brain chemistry and endorphins that are released in your body when you laugh that make you feel better and strengthen your immune system, but beyond the medical science, have you seen that laughter is good for you?
I have a friend who is a professional comedian, and he loves to remind people that not only does laughter feel good; but even the Bible teaches that it's good for you: Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit tries up the bones." His goal in life is to spread as much cheer and 'good medicine' as he can with his humor. I can clearly say in my own life that it works.
Nine years ago this month I was diagnosed with cancer. With a wife and two young children counting on me, I was determined to beat this disease. As I was preparing for my first of six rounds of chemo, I saw a magazine in the waiting room of my doctor's office. On the cover was a picture of the back of a bald head with a bright yellow smiley face on it. The title of cover story was "Tumor Humor," and right there I realized that I had another weapon in my fight against this disease. I was going to laugh myself healthy.
I started right away looking for reasons to laugh and keep my heart cheerful. I would watch stand up comics on video to pass the time while getting my medicine, and when I ended up in the hospital for 10 days with an infection, the first thing I did when I got home was pop in a copy of one of my favorite comedy films and watch it, laughing and crying all the way.
I made fun of my own bald head, telling people I was saving a fortune on shampoo and haircuts. I would make jokes about how I missed having hair to keep my head warm, but I couldn't figure out how each raindrop that landed on my head now found its way right into my eye.
After it was all done and I was healthy, I was asked to come share some of my comedy routine with a group of fellow cancer survivors. Some of them had not laughed in months, but when I started making fun of procedures and the joys of losing our hair, people laughed. It was good medicine.
Sometimes people in church feel like they have to be serious all the time. Truth is, laughter is good for you in body, mind and spirit. I believe that Jesus laughed a lot more than we might think, and if we paid attention, we would see the laughter in our world as a gift from God. So laugh, for God's sake.
Pastor Bill McCready of LifePoint Church is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.