Did you know that God laughs and cries?
JANUARY 26, 2023
Did you know that God laughs and cries? Let’s talk, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. Yesterday we looked at Genesis 1 and the fact that we are created in the image of God and the implications of that, for our purpose. And there are a lot of implications. I don’t believe that Christians who are Biblical can be anything but pro-life. That doesn’t mean that we don’t understand the pain of pregnancy, in a lot of very dark situations. It doesn’t mean that we’re not compassionate. It doesn’t mean that we think people are ugly and their mother dresses them funny if they’re thinking about abortion because we know the sadness and the lament that follows that, but you can’t do the abortion because we’re created in the image of God. Now, for our purposes, and we’re taking time to look at a new book that I wrote called Laughter and Lament and some of the themes in that, there’s a surprising Biblical reason why we laugh and why we cry. You know why? Because God is sorrowful and glad. With all due respect to the opposing views and theological circles about the emotions of God, the Bible portrays a God who feels deeply and acts passionately. His humor is everywhere, and his tears, as it were, fall from the pages of the Bible. We live in a world that is at minimum not what it’s supposed to be. And everybody knows that. Jesus says that when we pray, we should pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it’s done in heaven. That means that in that prayer, we recognize there’s something wrong and it’s big and it’s dark and it’s scary. Something is seriously wrong and everyone knows it. The knowledge is particularly alive in believers who know God’s plan, but it’s not just a Christian knowing. It’s reflected in the music and the art and the culture and the philosophies of thoughtful people everywhere. It’s reflected in the silent, if unspoken and undefined sadness of everybody, you and everybody you know. It’s universal hatred, meaninglessness, alienation, suffering and death are just not the way it’s supposed to be. What’s with that? Logic suggests that people who live in the darkness of a fallen world would simply accept the dark with nothing more than stoic acquiescence. But that’s not what happens. In the hearts of human beings there’s always a cry for something different and better. The it is what it is, may be the mantra, but it is not what it’s supposed to be is the basis of a universal longing. And you’ll find it in everybody and every place at every time. The source of that longing for restoration is the image of God present in all of us. It is part of what it means to be human. Restoration is the hope of Christians, and the need for it is the stuff of both laughter and lament. Our lament is deep and wrenching, bad stuff. And our laughter is free and joyful because restoration and the knowledge of it is what it means to be created in the image of God. In fact, it is a reflection of the laughter and the lament of God himself. In Calvin Miller’s and we were writing friends. I consider him one of the great writers of our time and I can hardly wait. I hope God is letting him write some more stories in heaven cause I’m going to love listening to Calvin’s stories. But he had a wonderful, three books. It was the Singer Trilogy. The Singer is Christ, and he’s being tortured and he’s going to soon die. World Hater and that’s Satan cries out with delight to Earth Maker. And that would be God. This is what he says.
I have you crying Earth Maker. You can never glory in your universal riches for I, I have made you poor. You lie at man’s caprice and wait for him to break your heart. Earth Maker is crying at the mercy of his earth. Cry, Creator, cry. This is my day to stand up on the breast of God and claim my victory over him. You lost the gamble. In but an hour, your lover will be pulp upon the gallows.. Did you tell him what his fingers formed? That his fingers formed the world. That he would die groaning with his hands crushed and whimpering in my great machine.
The Creator does cry, but he laughs too. G.K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy, and if you haven’t read that, you ought to read it, writes about God who delights and is even childlike in his Creation. Listen to what Chesterton writes.
Because children have abounding vitality because they are in spirit, fierce and free. Therefore, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, do it again, and the grownup person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grownup people are not strong enough to exalt in monotony, but perhaps God is strong enough to exalt in monotony. Is it possible? Do you think that God says every morning, do it again, do it again to the sun. And every evening do it again, do it again to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike, but it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that God has the eternal appetite of infancy, for we have sinned and grown old and our Father is younger than we are.
There are of course different kinds of laughter and we’re going to look at them later on. That’s also, true of God. Scripture says that God’s laughter is sometimes the laughter of derision, sometimes it’s the laughter of irony and at other times a sort of, you’ve got to be kidding laughter. But it’s also a free and joyous laughter. It’s a laughter that comes from delight, from truth, from relationship. We are created in his image and we laugh the way he laughs, and for the same reasons he laughs. His laughter defines ours, just so his sadness and tears define ours also. If we’re going to understand our laughter and our lament, it starts in one place and that one place is God. Everything starts with him. It’s important however, to see that the laughter and the lament of God is about us too. I know, I know, it’s not about us, it’s about God. It feels spiritual as well as somewhat self-righteous to say that, but while partially true, that statement misses a very important Biblical truth, Paul writes.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in you?
I Corinthians 3:16. That by the way isn’t on a verse you can use to get your husband or wife to stop smoking and to get some exercise. The you is plural, like all y’all are God’s temple. It’s an amazing statement of the reality, value and focus of God on who? On us. And then Paul goes on and even further, he writes this.
For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Sivas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours and you are Christ. And Christ is God’s.
Huh? I Corinthians 3:21 through 23. So, it’s all about. You ought to know that and remember it. But listen, it’s also about you and me. Hmm. You think about that. Amen.
God laughs and cries. Now, that is a refreshing reminder. Thank you Steve. That wraps up a fantastic week of exploring the themes from Steve’s latest book, Laughter and Lament. We will continue that, but first tomorrow, of course, it’s Friday Q&A with Steve and Pete and here’s one question on tap for tomorrow. Why didn’t Adam correct Eve? Now, that is a great question. Be sure to join us. Well, we’ve talked about it all this week. Steve’s new book, Laughter and Lament: the Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. It’s all about how laughter and lament are often found together in unexpected places. Steve shares that speaking honestly about the ways that we have been hurt and the ways we have hurt others, opens the door to the joy of God’s presence even as we grieve. Now, here’s something cool. We have created a special Laughter and Lament in booklet with excerpts from the book. Can we send you a copy of that booklet? Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the Laughter and Lament booklet. And finally, a question, have you ever considered partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or make it easy, just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t even matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.