The Scripture ~ So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18: 12-15
The Spiritual Focus ~ “Humor is a prelude to faith, and laughter is the beginning of prayer.”
The Breath Prayer ~ Inhale Ha, Exhale Ha
The Devotion ~ The season of Lent in the church is usually a time of reflection, prayer and solemn preparation for Easter. Most church traditions that adhere to Lenten spiritual practices encourage the flock to find a spiritual practice that draws attention away from the self in order to focus on Christ’s journey to the cross. Most would not consider laughter an appropriate Lenten spiritual practice, and yet, if we define humor/laughter as “that which is incongruous or a surprise,” we must admit the focus of Lent and the story of Easter hold that tension.
Sarah and Abraham (renamed by God from Abram to Abraham which means “father of many”) had been promised children 24 years earlier when they were in their 70s and 80s. That was laughable then, and at 90 and 100 years old, even more so. The incongruity of the situation caused Sarah to laugh at the three visitors who proclaimed it: what a surprise! Sarah, however, was reminded that nothing is too hard for God and her faith was renewed. We, as post-resurrection Christians, hold that tension during the 40 day Lenten journey to Easter morning. We witness the story every year through the lens of renewed faith that nothing is too hard for God, as the surprise of Easter morning laughs in the face of death and evil.
Laughter is hard if it is dependent on funny stories or jokes because it is subjective and life isn’t always funny. Laughter Yoga guru Dr. Madan Kataria, M.D., discovered that the body doesn’t know the difference between real laughter and fake laughter: the health and healing benefits are the same. Laughing, real or fake, for 10-15 minutes a day can be a spiritual practice that is healing, and as Niebuhr says, “a prelude to faith and a form of prayer.” Practice laughing with God, surely we are healed.