Forgive me if I laugh too much.
MARCH 27, 2023
Hey, forgive me if I laugh too much. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We are 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. If you’re just joining us, we’ve been spending a good many weeks on a book I wrote. It isn’t a great book, but it is a true one and it’s not half bad. The title of the book is Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. It was a hard book to write because there’s so much bad news in it. You work hard and you live hard and then you die. And that is a reason to lament. But there’s a reason to laughter, to laugh. And God laughs. And the Bible has a lot to say about both, and we’re taking our time to pursue that subject. By the way, I hope you had a great week-end, and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. Before we study, let’s pray. Father, we come into your presence, surprised that we’re here. We thought this place was a place for good people, for people who are really spiritual, for people who knew a lot, for people who were obedient and we tried to be that and couldn’t pull it off. And we were just leaving when you said, welcome child. Welcome, this is your place and we’ve been there ever since. Father, we praise you and we thank you that we can call you Father, that you’re the sovereign Ruler, Creator, and Sustainer of everything. And of our lives, that you are sufficient for every need. And so, Father, I pray for the people who are listening right now. You know the hard places and the soft places and you’re the God of both. And then Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. Forgive him his sins cause they are many. We would see Jesus and Him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. After looking at some reasons to lament, that was kind of hard going over the last few weeks. Life is hard and then you die, life is hard and then you get angry, life is hard, those were the chapters that preceded this chapter, and when we got here, I was kind of pleased. Life is hard and then you laugh, Proverbs 17:22.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
And the interesting thing, and we’ve seen this in the last week or two, is that God is a God of laughter. Sometimes that laughter is derision, but other times it is pure joy. I gave you a wonderful quote from Chesterton who said.
That God is almost childlike in his laughter.
And, the Scriptures speak a lot about laughter and joy. Now, if you’re really spiritual, you say there’s a lot of difference between happiness and joy. I got joy down in my heart, doesn’t mean everything is something I like and can laugh about. It’s a gift and there’s some truth to that. And happiness comes when you got the job. When the girl you loved, said she’d marry you. When you got a raise. When, when things were going right. And I agree with that and I understand it, and I have sometimes taught that particular concept, but I think sometimes we make too great a line, a dichotomy between joy and happiness. There are overtones of the same thing, and they smell the same way. So, throughout the Scripture there is a lot to be said about joy, and you can put in there parenthetically about laughter, about fun, about freedom, about humor. And so, we spent a good bit of time. It’s the microphone. We spent a good bit of time talking about laughter and God’s laughter. Now, let’s talk about some of the reasons we laugh. My father didn’t become a Christian until he was dying. So many of us had told him about Jesus and he had heard the gospel many times. But let me tell you something, and I’ve told you this before, my father didn’t think he was good enough. In his last days his doctor said, Mr. Brown, you have about three months to live. Now, we’re going to pray, and after we pray, I’m going to tell you something far more important than what I just told you. He did, the doctor told my father that Jesus loved people who weren’t good enough. He talked about unconditional forgiveness and my father, once he understood that, he came running, in a wonderful and childlike way. Death is a place for appropriate lament, and my father’s dying was that, but it was also more, there was a release and even a joy about his lament. He would often laugh with my mother, my brother, and me during those days. And do you know why? His sins were many, just as Jesus said in Luke 7 about the prostitute, his sins were many, as are mine and yours. What a relief to know that every sin you ever committed is known by God. Every secret you refuse to share is known by God. Every person you ever hurt is known by God. Every time you smoked and drank the wrong thing is known by God. Everything you’ve done that made you a jerk is known by God. And do you know what he says to you, after all I’ve done for you? No, he never says that. Can you get your act, no, he doesn’t say that. He says, child, I know you are forgiven. What a relief, what a gift, to finally realize that being good enough wasn’t the issue. Forgiveness, total, unconditional, and free was the source of the joy and the laughter. The problem with our lament is that we accept so many kickers that others, perhaps even well-intentioned friends, have attached to the promises. The truths of the gospel are meant to give us joy, and particularly in the dark when that’s all we have. It’s enough, Paul said
That the sting of death was removed
and then he said
That the sting of death was sin.
It was our failure, our rebellion, and in my father’s case, when he realized the sting had been removed, he could laugh. There was joy and you can too, but it’s, you know, it’s not just forgiveness. There is a long list of truths that become the source of joy in the dark. There’s the realization that we are acceptable even when we cuss and spit about our situation. You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that says.
Jesus is coming back, look busy.
You know, what if in his presence you don’t have to look busy, become more religious, work at being acceptable. What if, just as I am, when you sang it, was a song that reflected exactly how God feels about you. Now, if that doesn’t make you want to laugh and dance and speak in tongues, there’s something wrong with you, and so, you know, I was speaking, I may have told you, but fairly recently, I’ve done a lot of interviews on this book and I’m speaking some places where some people are studying the book and I answer questions. And during the Q&A at a particular church where I was, they had a dinner and I spoke for a while about the book, and then I had a question and answer period. And the guy raised his hand, an older man, not as old as me, nobody’s as old as I am. But he raised his hand and he said, Steve, my granddaughter died, just a month ago, and what do I do? And I said, sir, do you know how to cuss and spit? And all of a sudden people were shocked. And he said, and I said, that’s why God gave you those words. And this would be an appropriate time to use them. And he said, I can’t do that. And I said, yes you can, and do you know why? Because you’re acceptable no matter what you say. So, be honest, just as I am is enough. I’ve already told you why I pray. It’s the one place where I don’t have to hide or pretend. That’s true in the darkest of our lament. It’s the place where our tears and anger are acceptable and the expressions of pain affirmed. And in that acceptance there is release. What if you knew that God liked you, not if you did good, or you got your act together, or you were nicer, but what if he just liked you the way you are? If you got it, you’d laugh. You think about that. Amen.
Just as I am is enough, that is a good word. Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming our tour through the Biblical basis of his latest book, Laughter and Lament. And if you enjoyed that, great news. We’ll be continuing from here tomorrow. Will you join us for that? When I say the word thrilling, what comes to mind for you? Winning an award, maybe landing a trophy swordfish, maybe meeting someone famous. Well, in his latest book, author Trevin Wax assigns that word, thrilling, to orthodoxy. We spoke to Trevin about it on Steve Brown Etc. and I have to say he makes a pretty compelling case. Check it out for yourself by calling us now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. If you’ll give us your address, we’ll send you that episode of Steve Brown Etc. on CD, for free. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Trevin Wax. Finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card or you can include a gift in your envelope. Or join the growing number of folks who gift safely and securely by text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.