Be So Happy

By David Berg

The poor hippie wanted to impress the lady of the house with how hungry he was, thinking he'd get a handout in the way of a good meal, so he got down on his hands and knees on the front lawn pretending to be eating grass. When the lady came out on the front porch and saw him, she said, "Oh my dear, you poor boy! Why don't you go round in the backyard? The grass is much longer back there." The generosity of some people!

The poor hippie was standing on the street corner giving out newspapers in return for twenty-five-cent donations when a man walked up, took two papers, and handed him a quarter, saying grandly, "I want you to know, young man, that I don't give you this because I feel that I have to or because I think it's my duty or because I even think your paper's worth it. I just enjoy giving." To which the hippie replied, "Well, mister, why don't you give us a dollar and have a real good time!"

We all need a good sense of humor. "A merry heart doeth good like medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). God created us with a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at things that are funny. So I'm sure He Himself has a sense of humor, especially when I look at some of the things and people He has created and the funny situations He lets them get into.

Someone has said that a sense of humor is the ability to see the funny side of a serious situation and to laugh at things when they're not the way they ought to be. Like the very formal preacher I knew who always wore a formal frock coat in the pulpit, or what we used to call "tie-n-tails," similar to our modern tuxedo. He was so particular about the crease in his trousers that, while waiting in his study for his part of the service to begin, during Sunday school he would take them off and hang them up rather than sit down in them. (This actually happened.)

Then one Sunday morning he suddenly remembered, just as they were dismissing Sunday school, that he was supposed to make an important announcement to the children, so he quickly jumped up and dashed out of his office onto the platform shouting, "Children, children, just a moment! I have something very important to show you!" As the kids turned around and looked back at him on the platform, for a moment there was a stunned silence, followed by a roar of laughter as they looked at the preacher standing there with the announcement in his hand held high in the air and his bare knees clearly visible above the altar rail.

His congregation obviously had a good sense of humor. However, he did not. For when he looked down to see what they were laughing at, he nearly fainted, and barely managed to stumble back into his office, where he collapsed, instead of being able to laugh at himself and his own ridiculous failure to remember to put his pants on before he went on the platform.

There is such a thing as being too serious and too sober about some things and taking some things too seriously, especially yourself. The ability to laugh at yourself and your own silly mistakes is a great asset and helps keep you humble. But he who can't laugh at his own mistakes or take the mistakes of others with a sense of humor either has too much pride or too severe a sense of life.

God intended for us to enjoy living, and He has given us the ability, the senses, and the environment to enjoy it, including Himself, and our main purpose in life, as Martin Luther said, is "to love God and enjoy Him forever." And I might add, to help others enjoy life by helping them to do the same by telling them of God's love and the happy life we live.

If there's anything that people notice and remark about when they meet us, it's the joy, the happiness, the laughter, the smiles, radiant faces, cheerful voices, and happy praises. And it's this very joy and happiness and loving fellowship which is so attractive to others. Praise the Lord.

God created you to enjoy the life He's given you and to love and enjoy Him forever and to try to help others to do the same. Even the martyrs didn't die sadly or sorrowfully, but singing and shouting and praising God. If there's anything in this world we're supposed to be, it's a happy people, because we've got more to be happy about than anybody else in the world. We have the happy love of Jesus, who takes all our burdens, carries all our cares, even lightens our sorrows; and even of our service for Him He says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30), and that it is the way of the transgressor that's hard (Proverbs 13:15).

If you're finding His yoke too hard or the burden of His service too heavy to bear, then maybe you're transgressing by not obeying Him, not "casting all your cares upon Jesus, for He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). "Cast thy burden on the Lord and He shall sustain thee" (Psalm 55:22). You're trying to carry too much and pull too hard. Let go and let God.

Let Jesus do it. Don't work so hard. Just let the Lord do it through you. Maybe you're trying too hard instead of letting God do it by His power, His love, His grace, and His strength. We're not the Christian Endeavour Union. In other words, we're not "Christian Triers" but "Lord Letters." For without Him we are nothing and can of our own selves do nothing.

So quit trying so hard. Let go and let God. Take it easy. Quit working so hard in your own strength. Quit taking yourself so seriously. Stop and praise the Lord and have a good laugh at your own weaknesses and ridiculous inability to do anything or accomplish anything for the Lord, knowing that if anything's going to get done, it's the Lord that's got to do it through you.

Relax. Quit trying so hard in your own strength. Smile! You're on candid camera--God's candid camera--and He wants you to be happy. Cheer up! Things could be a lot worse, and they probably will be, but why worry about it now. Fret not thyself for tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34).

I heartily agree with the young man who wrote me that Christians need to have more of a sense of humor, to be able to laugh at something funny, and mostly themselves, instead of, as he put it, practicing with balls and chains and thumbscrews today so they'll be able to bear them tomorrow. That's not the way God does things. He doesn't make you try to practice suffering today what you're going to have to suffer tomorrow.

He says, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." You're not to add more to it in preparation for tomorrow, or to try to toughen yourself up for more evil tomorrow. You're to enjoy today and take things as they come and let tomorrow take care of itself. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:25). God gives you power for the hour, grace for the trial--at the hour and when it comes, not before. So don't worry about it.

When you're weak, then you're strong, and His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). For His grace is sufficient for you, and He takes the weak things to confound the mighty and the foolish things to confound the wisdom of the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). For He's not revealed these things unto the wise and prudent, but unto babes (Matthew 11:25). You've got to be a baby!

We're a real laugh, thinking we can save the world with no theological education, no seminary degrees in theology and philosophy, no billions of dollars in church property, no influential big wheels, no powerful denominational organization, and no millions of church-goers every Sunday. But we're doing it. What a sense of humor God has. That ought to cheer anybody up.

If God can use us, He can use anybody, because we're nobody, and you ought to absolutely crack up laughing at yourself and how ridiculous you are instead of trying to be too sober and taking yourself too seriously. If He can use you and me, He could even use Balaam's ass. And He did. Or even cause the rocks to cry out. And He has. For He has raised up of these stones children unto Abraham. Hallelujah.

So for God's sake and His work's sake and your own sake, and especially for the sake of those around you, don't try so hard and take yourself so seriously. It's got to be God or we'll never make it. That's why He called us. And that's why they marvel, beholding the man, knowing that it's only because we've been with Jesus that we can do these things (Acts 4:13). They know it's got to be God. They know it's only Jesus. They know it's a miracle of God that has changed our lives. So why not have a good laugh at yourself and admit that it's God that's doing it all through you.

I once knew a dear old missionary who had evangelized the forbidden country of Tibet for twenty-five years, four years of it behind communist lines, and I marveled at his humility, his grace, and blithely cheerful spirit as he did dishes with me. I thought what a great man he was and what a great work he had done and how famous he should have been, and yet here he was doing dishes with me for the rest of the kids.

Since I was planning to be a missionary myself, I asked him a question which I considered he of all people ought to know: "What do you think a missionary needs the most?" I was expecting some solemn and profound answer from his greatly superior wisdom and vast wealth of years of experience. So you can imagine how shocked I was when he said simply, pausing with his hands in the sink and looking at me with a sly smile: "A sense of humor--to be able to laugh when you feel like crying."

He said that, often, under the almost unbearable tension of the most frightening circumstances, a good laugh nearly saved their lives and their nerves. After all, if you know the Lord's going to take care of it somehow, you can afford to smile and to laugh at how impossible the situation is, how ridiculous the circumstances are, as you know God's got to do a miracle. So why not laugh about it?

I remember what a thrill we used to get when we got down to our last penny, because we knew it was time for God to do a miracle. We got so excited we could hardly wait, looking expectantly in this direction and that with the greatest of happy anticipation, wondering joyfully where it was going to come from and what unusual or different thing He was going to do this time to save us. Sometimes it was really comical! We'd find a bill in an old purse or the bottom of a drawer or a dollar lying in the street, or meet an old and unexpected friend who invited us to dinner and gave us a place to lay our heads for the night.

I can remember one time when we needed a dime for a quart of milk for breakfast, and didn't have a penny. My mother said, "Don't worry, children, the Lord will supply. Let's go for a walk before breakfast." And as we stood on the corner, a brand-new dime literally fell out of the sky and tinkled to the sidewalk. We never could figure out how it got there or where it fell from or who dropped it, unless it was God Himself.

What a joke! How funny can you get, dropping dimes from the sky? Who else would run His business that way? But God likes to do it differently and in many ways that to us are downright ridiculous, outlandishly funny, seemingly impossible, and outright laughable, just to show His power, that He's not bound by conventions, traditions, customs, the world, or any kind of impossibilities.

If there was ever a saint who has one of the greatest soul winners I ever knew and who had some marvelous gifts of the Spirit and for whom God performed many mighty miracles, it was my mother. And yet she was one of the funniest women I ever knew, keeping us constantly in stitches and sometimes literally doubled up in laughter at some of her funny antics, peculiarities, absent-mindedness, and sense of humor.

There was nothing she enjoyed as much as a good joke on herself. She used to say, "I guess God made me so funny just to show what He could do with someone as ridiculous as I am." Sometimes, to give God all the glory, she would have us virtually rolling on the floor with laughter at some of her funny stories about herself and the crazy things she'd done absentmindedly.

We do have other things to do besides laugh, but for God's sake, laugh while you're doing them. And most of all, be able to laugh at yourself and a good joke on yourself, because you're the funniest thing God ever made, and you couldn't be any more ridiculous. So this ought to help keep you humble.

Humor certainly does help to humble you. There's nothing like the humiliation of a good joke on yourself to help keep us from getting so self-righteous and super sober and severely serious that we can't enjoy a good joke on ourselves and can't see how funny we are, how ridiculous we are, how nothing we are, and what a joke we are.

For God's sake, why don't you break down that stupid self-righteous pride and laugh at yourself, at how ridiculous and foolish you are to think you can save the world, when it's only God that's doing it through you, showing that even the foolishness of God is greater that the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 1:25). Hallelujah. Have a good laugh at all your troubles. It'll do you good, and it'll do God good, because it'll show Him that you're not worried but you're still trusting Him. Praise the Lord.

We all need a good laugh. Have a sense of humor. Keep humble with good humor. Laugh at yourself. Just don't let's overdo it, as there's a time for everything. There's a time to laugh, and a time to weep--a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). But let's always be able to smile through our tears. A ray of sunshine is even more beautiful in the midst of rain. Let's have a little more sunshine and laughter and not so much gloom and doom. Instead of giving them so much hell, let's give them a little more heaven. "Laugh and the world will laugh with you.--Cry, and you'll cry alone."

The world knows enough hell. Let's show them a little more heaven--"Love and laughter and peace ever after," and that today you can be free. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Amen? Let's have some holy laughter! Laugh in the Spirit! Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12).