“Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness” (Proverbs 14:13)
Mockery has become so manic, and the parodies so predictable. From time to time, there’s ferocity that breaks into mean-spiritedness behind all the funny.
There is jesting.
There is joking.
There is the jab, jab, jab and the poke, poke, poke of those who refuse to see the seriousness of our situations.
Potty-mouthed pundits promote a mindset that calls everyone to the cesspool. Overly obscene observations are celebrated for their shock value. Make a scene so that you can be seen, this is the spirit of the age. Spotlight the spectacle – it’s a kind of continuous vaudeville, only this one fills its stages with vaunts and vanities and vexations.
It is fiendish, faddish, and fainting. And, it fails and those who are part of it know this and always have.
Motown’s Smokey Robinson and the Miracles once sang about the “Tears of a Clown.” There’s a certain and real sadness that is at the center of all of these shenanigans.
This is comic relief that offers no real relief. It is like Shakespeare’s Mercutio, the bawdy character who yuks it up throughout “Romeo and Juliet” until he is killed off, so the tragedy can proceed to its bitter climax.
Yes, the laughs do end — especially the nervous, anxious variety.
Naked and Empty
What’s hiding behind the fabric of foolery? What’s hidden by the curtains of comedic callousness? I sense a real desperation of spirit, an emptiness that threatens to swallow their worlds.
Something’s very wrong, but few want to face it honestly. With every tawdry skit, a bit of nakedness is flashed. With taunts and tickles, personality after personality tap-dances around the chasm that’s yawning within them. And people chuckle along with the program.Mirth melts down into bitterness. The weight of reality staggers and brings low. Click To Tweet
Whistling in the graveyard is what it is. Things right, true, honest, and pure have fallen dead in the street. The curses and calamities of the hour go ignored.
Laugh it up. Paint those you disagree with as fools and wind up being fooled all the more. When the laughter stops, others gin up the anger, stomp and shout, and amplify messages that are no messages at all.
But hearts remain sorrowful. Mirth melts down into bitterness. The weight of reality staggers and brings low.
Times like these are nothing new. Who will tell what God can do? It only takes one to step into the disaster and bring about a revival.
Needed: A Man of Mission
It takes one like Nehemiah, a man with a nice job and comfortable surroundings as the cupbearer of an ancient king. This man became grieved that Jerusalem had become desolate, an open city with fallen walls.
Nehemiah sought leave from the king and he got it. He headed home and led an intense and efficient building project. After 52 days, Jerusalem was walled again. Led by Nehemiah, the citizens dedicated themselves to a renewal of their city and its purpose. It happened by the power of God communicated through the vision of one man.
When the work was finished, the people of Jerusalem gathered to hear the Word of God. Ezra took to the pulpit and carefully read and explained the Scriptures. The words cut to the hearts of the hearers. Soon, the people wept, the city was full of the sounds of sorrow.
Exactly what God and the preacher wanted, right? Wrong. Notice, Ezra’s response to this outburst; in essence, he told them, “Cut it out, and rejoice.”
“ This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. … Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
Wow! Ezra commanded the people to party. This might come as something of a surprise to those who think the way of Christianity involves gloomily grumping along through days on the path to glory. The Bible is full of feasting and festivity. The finality of the Lord’s ultimate victory will include a Marriage Supper (see Revelation 19).
“Merry hearts” bring health, while broken spirits produce dry bones (see Proverbs 17:22). Our senses of humor are gifts from God to us. He made us for His joy to be manifest in us.
Crude comics and jesters provide only short-term respites. Their light fare provides nothing that brings true healing and, worst of all, they hinder the work of real repentance and reconciliation.
What’s really needed today are people full of the joy of the Lord. Who has this? Those who understand that there are days to come when the presence of God will fill every corner of Creation, they look for a time when Light will last and laughter will be pure, powerful, and real.
For more on the Day of the Lord to come, check out “Man and the Messianic World to Come,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, Pastor of the Greater Grace Church of Baltimore.