James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
Dear Readers, When I think of the passage above, I see an even deeper meaning, especially due to my current circumstances. Now James is telling us that when we suffer for Christ, we should take pleasure in it. He is explaining that it is wonderful and honorable to suffer on earth for the Lord. But, I believe there is more to it.
I am now in my fifth month of solitary confinement. The S.M.U. [Supermax Unit] is divided into sections. I am housed on what is known as the programs corridor. There are 14 men altogether on this corridor. Seven on one side and seven on the other. Our cells face each other, so we can yell through the cracks of our cell doors and conversate. Every day, I find a way to make these men laugh. We all laugh heartily every day. I’m talking big barrel, belly-aching laughs. We have learned to make light of our situation. We razz each other and play jokes. We draw silly cartoons of each other. We have good-natured fun. You see, God has taught me not to take myself or my situation so seriously. I believe that part of what James was saying is… don’t take the things of this world so seriously; find the joy in every situation. God meant us to be joyful and merry. He wants us to laugh and have good clean fun. It’s okay to be silly sometimes. He wants us to be cheerful.
When you are saved, you have an abundance of joy. Part of being a minister is spreading that joy to others. It is our duty as Christians to lift the spirits of our fellow man. As I explained in previous posts, my pastor, Tom Shuford, used to visit me five days a week when I was in county jail. We spent a great number of those visits laughing in between bible studies. His wife and I did the same when we visited. He is no longer allowed to visit the prison, unfortunately, due to unjust politics. But, we continue to write and speak on the phone. During our conversations and in our letters, we make each other laugh. Tom is gravely ill, yet he is still very good humored. Laughter is of the Lord. It is uplifting. There is so much power in it. It is truly good for the soul. We who are saved should try to be joyful always. My earthly father and I always laughed every time we were together. I cherish that. Thank you, Jesus! I try to do the same with my own children. I do my best to make everyone I come into contact with laugh. I want them to feel good and know joy. It is so important.
There will be lots of laughter in Heaven. Luke 6:21 says, “Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.” When we learn to know joy in every circumstance, we learn to defeat the devil who wants us to be miserable. You need to dance and sing, smile and laugh. For it is those things which make life bearable no matter what. All those things are of the Lord. You have to loosen up, be corny, be silly, be merry, be joyful; especially when times are bad. I see the humor in every situation I face. When my dearly beloved brother died last year, I did not focus on the tragedy of his death. I remembered all the times we laughed together. Believe me, there were so many. He and I laughed every time we saw each other. That is so special to me. It has helped me cope with his death. I can reflect on the good times we had and laugh anytime I want. I thank God for that.
I want you to listen to me, my brothers and sisters. You need to laugh. You need to feel joy and spread it. You need to make lasting and beautiful memories with people. If my buddy Tom can laugh in the face of death and if I can laugh while being persecuted and in chains, then so can you. No matter what you are facing, God’s spirit can fill you with joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
I was reading the book of John 2:1-11 and I realized that the first miracle that Jesus performed on earth was to spread joy. Read it for yourself:
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
You see, those people were poor. We know this because they ran out of wine. The rich would have had more than enough wine. Jesus gave them what they needed to keep the celebration going. He spread joy and it is important that we realize that. He was showing us how important it is to spread joy. It was His first miracle. Not only that, but He saved the best wine for last. Think about that. He was telling us that there will be joy and laughter in this life, but the best and greatest joy and laughter will come in the end in eternity and it will come from Jesus. Life can be a very rough ride filled with many potholes, but if you have Jesus in your heart, you will enjoy it — all of it, the good and the bad. And, at the end of your journey, you will find the greatest joy you have ever known. So, when you minister, make sure that joy and laughter are part of it. And, always make sure you find the humor in every situation. I know I do and because of that I am able to find great strength in the Lord, knowing that I shall spend eternity filled with joy and laughter. I shall be in a state of utter bliss forever. You can, too. I love you, my beautiful brothers and sisters. Please remember to find joy and laughter every day no matter what.
II Corinthians 6:1-10
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
May God bless and keep you! May you be filled with His joy! May you receive eternal bliss! Amen.
Love in Christ,
(a man who finds joy and laughter in every situation)