Girlfriends in God - Mar. 8, 2011

 March 8, 2011
Laugh it up!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).

Friend to Friend
Jesus lived and died so that we can experience abundant life. Jesus did not come so that we can merely survive life. Pagans can survive life. God’s plan is for us to experience joy and peace – no matter what life holds.

John 10:10 clearly states the promise of God, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In this verse, “abundant” literally means “going beyond; full or exuberant.” In other words, an abundant life is a life filled with joy. Even in the midst of a joy-less world, we can live a joy-filled life for one simple reason – God is in control. And because He is in control, we are promised, “the cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15 NIV). Life should be an ongoing celebration.

Now, be honest for a moment. Is your life a continual feast, a daily celebration? Would those who know you best describe you as a woman of joy? Laughter and joy are treasures from God, valuable to us for many reasons.

1.  Joy heals. Proverbs 17:22 “A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.”

We lived in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area when hospitals and doctors first developed “laughter programs.” Doctors actually prescribed laughter for their patients. Why? Because they discovered what Scripture has said for thousands of years - laughter heals. Studies show that laughter:

  • Exercises lungs
  • Increases circulation
  • Controls pain
  • Reduces tension
  • Strengthens immune systems

In other words, God created us to illustrate the truth, that if we laugh more days, we will have more days to laugh. Joy heals.

2.  Joy makes us strong. Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy – humor – laughter – all cultivate inner strength that operates beyond our own human abilities. The joy of the Lord in us will produce His strength through us. A life without joy is like a car without shock absorbers. It will be jolted by every bump in the road. Laughter and joy are the shock-absorbers of life and can radically change our perspective of life and the tough times it holds. 

Several years ago, one of my friends had a mastectomy. Sally was out of work for months, undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Sally seemed fragile and frail in the way she handled tough circumstances and her battle with cancer was by far the greatest challenge of her life. Anticipating her return to work, Sally’s co-workers were a little tense, wondering just how this experience would affect her personally as well as her ability to handle the stress of her job. They got their answer on her first day back at work. Sally walked in, smiling, wearing a large poster-board sign around her neck. On the sign was a huge black arrow pointing down. The sign read, “It was this one!” Yes, joy and laughter make us strong.

C.  Joy makes the ordinary special.

Someone said, “If you have to move ten inches from where you are now to be happy, then you will never be truly happy.” As we learn to celebrate the ordinary things in life, we build a life of joy because it is against the backdrop of the ordinary that God’s work becomes extraordinary. We don’t have trouble celebrating the big events in life. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries – are celebrations we anticipate and execute with great planning and forethought. We tend to place unrealistic expectations on these celebrations because there is no daily celebration of life.

So celebrate, my friends! Celebrate Tuesdays, half birthdays, haircuts, new jeans and report cards. Celebrate the day braces go on – and especially the day they come off. Celebrate if Dad comes home early. Hey, just celebrate if Dad comes home. My husband is an absolute master at finding joy and laughter in the ordinary and often mundane things of life. Now before I go any further, you need to know that I have his full permission to share the following illustration. I believe his exact words were, “Go for it!”

Several years ago, our family was flying to Texas for the Christmas holidays. Before I could even begin packing, a mountain of laundry had to be done. My sweet husband offered to help. After the first few loads, we turned on the television to watch a Christmas special. Settling into the couch positioned under a wall of windows, we folded load after load of clothes. It was midnight and Dan was bored – a dangerous combination. The drier buzzed and out he went to retrieve the final load. He came back into the room wearing a “hat” which turned out to be a pair of my sexiest underwear. I burst out laughing – and so did the people outside our family room windows.

Each year, our church youth decorated Christmas trees and delivered them to the older members of our congregation - a wonderful act of service. They also had a contest to see who could produce the ugliest tree, which was always delivered to the pastor’s home on Christmas Eve. Since we would be out of town on Christmas Eve, they had chosen this particular night to deliver “our” tree. Outside our windows stood youth workers, youth and the youth pastor – laughing hysterically. (Some of them are still in counseling today.) That ordinary chore has become a favorite family story. Joy and laughter make the ordinary special. 

I want it all. I want everything God has for me. I want to celebrate life, but I often get so wrapped up in the urgent things that I lose sight of the important things. A celebratory attitude is slowly siphoned from our souls by the countless “joy robbers” the enemy sends our way. Guard your heart and mind. Refuse to surrender your God-given joy to anyone or anything. Join me this week as we celebrate Jesus. Party on, girlfriends!

Let’s Pray
Father, I celebrate You! Thank You for bringing joy and peace into my dark world. Thank You for a love that never fails and a peace that meets every need. Help me to remember that because You are in control, I can have joy every step of the way. 

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

  • Evaluate the joy-level in your heart and in your home.
  • Identify any “joy-robbers” in your life and make a plan to eliminate them.
  • Plan a party to celebrate Jesus.   
  • Memorize the key verse today. Write it on a card and post it where you will see if most often.

More from the Girlfriends
Would my family describe me as a woman of joy? I pray so. I know it doesn’t please God when we live as if He is not in control. I know from experience that joy and laughter can heal a broken heart and restore a wounded soul. Today, let’s turn to God and choose the joy He offers.    

Need joy?Life is hard. How can we find joy in the midst of difficult times? Mary’s Bible study, Laugh More... Live Better is filled with humor, life stories and dynamic principles from God's Word that will help you experience the abundant life God provides.

It’s not too late to enroll in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, How to Handle Hurtand have access to all of 2011 studies.

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Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Tuesday, 08 March 2011.