Laughter and lament: you don’t believe it, but they go together.
NOVEMBER 18, 2021
Laughter and lament, you don’t believe it, but they go together. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth, that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the repercussions of a committed life. And if you’ve been with us, you’re aware that the last part of the seventh chapter of Acts and the first part of the eighth chapter of Acts, there’s no good news. I mean, this is a dark text. Don’t read it for your devotions before you go to sleep at night because there’s no comfort, there’s nothing there that’s going to make you feel better about your world. But what comes next and we’re going to get to that when we finish looking at these principles, is something that is absolutely amazing, the repercussions of a committed life. And we’ve been looking at principles that you can draw from this text and from other texts, the first one, God has a plan and you fit into that plan. I mean, as dark as it looked, Stephen was dead, they’re standing by his graveside and crying and there is a great persecution. And Christians are being rousted out of their houses and thrown into prison. God has a plan. And that was his plan. And when God has a plan, if you’re a Christian you fit into it, and then we saw you don’t have to understand God’s plan. And in fact, you can’t because it’s too complicated for you to understand. One of the reasons that there is so much metaphor in Scripture and symbols in Scripture is because that’s the only way we can understand. It’s like this, God says, it’s like this. And then he gives us incredible wise things that are generally, or at least in a number of places metaphors. God uses metaphors because we understand the story better than we understand instruction. And when you’re talking about God, He’ll tell us stories before he’ll give us a lesson because the lessons are hard to understand and you don’t have to understand God’s plan. You just have to do what he told you to do in the place where he put you. And then there’s another principle, we’re called to find joy in Christ in knowing his will and doing it and not in the circumstances that make up his will, that we’re experiencing in the present moment. I’ve just finished the manuscript and the publisher has it. And we just signed the contract and I don’t sign a personal contract, Key Life does. And we’re starting the editing, the final editing process on the book. I don’t want to brag, but it’s truly one of the great classical books in the history of the church. And you’ll be amazed when it comes out. And if you believe that you’ll believe anything. Actually, I’m looking over the manuscript for like the 15th time. And some of it is really, really good. And some of it is not half bad and other parts are so bad that they make me wince. But anyway, let me tell you the title, I think I’ve told you before, it’s called Laughter and Lament: The Touchstones of Radical Christian Freedom. I started working on that book because I was going to work on a book on laughter, the laughter of God’s people. But the more I started studying the Scripture to put that book together, the more I saw the tears and the pain, like this text in Acts where the Christians are standing by his graveside and crying. Stephen their leader, who’s just died as a young man, probably in his late twenties, early thirties. And there is great sadness going on at that place. And I read the book of Lamentations and I read some of the Psalms where they are so dark and the sadness that it makes you wince. And I thought, I can’t just talk about laughter, that would be silly. I would be creating a Disney World Christianity. And so, I changed the title and I said, Laughter and Lament: The Touchstones of Christian Freedom. And I’m not gonna spend a lot of time talking about it, but I do want you to know that the sign of the early church was laughter, it was joy, they called the Holy Spirit in the early church, the Happy Spirit. And that’s crazy, especially when you look at the last part of the seventh chapter of Acts and the first part of the eighth chapter of Acts. I mean, this was a sad, sad time, but as sad as it was, we went to a funeral a couple of weeks ago, one of the former staff members and a present blogger on our Key Life website, her brother died and we all staff members and lot of other people, the sanctuary and it was a large one, was packed. And, it was a sad time because he died way too young. God had used her brother and so many ways in leading people to Christ. It was a time when we remembered that and we remembered him and we were glad for him. But you know what the most prominent thing at that funeral was, laughter. I mean, as people told stories, family members and friends about William, the man who had died. There was so much laughter that if you had walked in and not known that it was a funeral, you would have thought it was a comedy club. The Christians were laughing in the midst of the darkness and you know, why? Not because death is pretty, it’s not, death is dark and scary and it’s called a curse in first Corinthians. And the curse is sin. That was true, and we all knew that, but there was something else going on and it was Jesus. And it was the joy that you discover in the dark places. And so, laughter and lament go together. Luke tells us that the people, when they buried Stephen, there was great lament, there was, but there was great joy too because Jesus was present there. Listen, in this world, you’re going to have troubles. Jesus said, and then he said a very strange thing. He said this, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. That’s true. And because it’s true, it makes a difference. John Spilsbury of England was confined to Worcester Jail because of his testimony to Christ. Let me read you what he said.
I shall not henceforth fear a prison as formerly because I had so much of my heavenly Father’s company has made it a palace to me.
John Bunyan said when he was in prison and he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, outside of the Bible, the best seller in the history of literature.
I thought of Jesus until every stone in my cell shown like a ruby.
Now, I’ve got to say something and it’s this, don’t be silly about pain, don’t pretend the dark isn’t dark, don’t pretend that the hard is easy, don’t use cliches to take something that is really, really difficult and make it because it’s a part of your witness, into something that it’s not. The world has fallen, pain is real and it’s dark sometimes. Sometimes it’s really dark, but don’t be surprised when in the middle of the darkness you think of Jesus and can’t help, but laugh. That’s what Mercy did, speaking of Pilgrim’s Progress. Mercy and Christiana have gone in the direction that Pilgrim has gone in. And one night, Mercy starts laughing in her sleep and she’s asked the next morning what she was laughing about and what she said was profound. And it was also real of every other Christian, she said.
In my dream, I dreamt that I was dressed in rags and dirty and down. And then I looked again and I was dressed in a beautiful dress and diamonds, and I heard a voice from the throne and the voice said, welcome daughter, welcome.
And then Bunyan writes that she said.
I did laugh and laugh and laugh.
I don’t want to be silly and superficial about this because it’s hard and some of you guys are going through a really hard time, but don’t be surprised when somebody tells you a joke and you find yourself laughing because it came from God. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Wow. It’s Thursday already, that was fast. Another great week spent in the book of Acts, as always make sure to visit us at keylife.org to listen and re-listen to these Key Life episodes anytime you want, Steve, will be back tomorrow for Friday Q&A joined by our friend Pete Alwinson, always a good time. So, as we approach Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is there anyone that you’re thankful for that you met this year? For me, one of those people is Matt Heard. Matt is a speaker. He’s a teacher, writer, pastor. He’s a coach. And you may have actually heard him teaching on Key Life a few weeks ago. Well, we we spoke with Matt on Steve Brown Etc, about a subject close to his heart, living life to the fullest. It’s such an encouraging show that I know you will be blessed by. Would you let us send it to you, for free? Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that CD. If you would like to mail a request, send it to
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