A Serious Look at Joy: Does God Have a Humorous Side?

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A Serious Look at Joy

Does God Have a Humorous Side?

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A Serious Look at Joy: Does God Have a Humorous Side?

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Does God have a sense of humor? Considering creation, as well as Scripture, it appears our Creator has a humorous side. There are numerous animals with quirky, expressive faces and behaviors—the baboon, ostrich, koala bear, walrus and skunk. And what about the marine bird called the blue-footed booby? Never mind silly baby animal shenanigans! God created the animals and had Adam name them. Can you imagine the comical moments he might have had doing that? 

It’s marvelous how many ways God gave us to express our joy and how many occasions we are stirred to do so.

“So the Lord God formed out of the ground every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the livestock, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field” (Genesis 2:19-20 Genesis 2:19-20 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
American King James Version×
Amplified Bible throughout). 

Consider an overly active chipmunk scurrying back and forth for no apparent reason. How could God create chipmunks and so many funny animals and not smile or hope that it makes his children burst out laughing? Could it be God’s way of giving us a lighter moment?

Sharing humor might even be considered an essential need for our survival and well-being according to medical research: 

Laughter gives you a natural high, lighting up the brain’s reward center and releasing feel-good chemicals, including dopamine and endorphins.

Scientists believe humans have a built-in laugh detector that responds to the sound of laughter, which accounts for contagious giggles (WebMD.com). 

When it comes to romantic connection, several studies found that laughing can seal the deal. Laughing together is an indicator of how much a pair likes each other.

Laughter helps the heart with blood flow, raises serotonin levels to fight depression and even burns calories.

According to the late Dr. William Fry, who was a leading researcher into the psychology of laughing, laughter is the equivalent to “internal jogging.” Fry stated that one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine. He also indicated that laughter eases tension, stress, and anger (HealthLine.com). 

Wouldn’t our Creator have accounted for this need with some built-in options in creation? 

Defining

“Humor is a comic, absurd, or incongruous quality causing amusement: peculiar features; quirks. Joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation” (Dictionary.com). 

Physical expression of the emotion of joy, and terms for rejoicing, are mentioned often in Scripture: Singing, clapping, dancing, shouting, making noise, leaping or stamping the feet. Occasions for joy include feasting and offering sacrifice, celebrating harvest or victory, enjoying prosperity, recovery of health, and as part of public worship (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Volume 2, 1990 Abingdon Press, p.1,000).

It’s marvelous how many ways God gave us to express our joy and how many occasions we are stirred to do so: “O clap your hands, all you people; shout to God with the voice of triumph and songs of joy” (Psalms 47:1 Psalms 47:1O clap your hands, all you people; shout to God with the voice of triumph.
American King James Version×
). The earth is even described as being joyful in Psalms 98:8 Psalms 98:8Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
American King James Version×
.

Scripture teaches us how essential emotions are to grow in grace, to be spiritually closer to God and each other, but also how the other extremes of emotion, like reckless abandon, can bring pain. The Bible lists the emotion of joy as an actual fruit of God’s Spirit: 

“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version×
). 

It’s interesting to study one fruit, because it quickly becomes clear how interrelated they all are. Each seems to help with various kinds of pain. It’s like one tree with a variety of nutritious fruit. For me, a good laugh is often the only thing that can heal certain sadness. Goofy pet videos shared by friends on social media can lighten a heavy heart: “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 Proverbs 17:22A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.
American King James Version×
).

Lighter moments in the Bible

The Bible has its lighter moments, using wit in the form of irony, satire, puns or wordplays. It has some 500 wordplays in the Old Testament and at least 200 in the New Testament. There’s the ludicrously human situation in the Garden of Eden where the man blames the woman and she in turn blames the serpent. The perfect opportunity arose for a pun on the name of the tower: “Therefore, the name of the city was Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the Lord scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9 Genesis 11:9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from there did the LORD scatter them abroad on the face of all the earth.
American King James Version×
). Other notable passages include: “Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” (Matthew 23:27 Matthew 23:27Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
American King James Version×
); “the speck and the log” (Matthew 7:3-5 Matthew 7:3-5 3 And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? 4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye.
American King James Version×
). However, humor is a literary quality easily lost in translation (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Volume 2, 1990 Abingdon Press, p. 660). 

A biblical archeology study on laughter pointed out that Jesus must have been a compelling personality, riveting teacher and fun person to be around, to keep the attention of crowds for days, even to the point of making people forget to eat, bring food or worry about work, as in the case of the crowd of 5,000 who followed him (Mark 6:30-44 Mark 6:30-44 30 And the apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said to them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and preceded them, and came together to him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came to him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said to them, Give you them to eat. And they say to him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38 He said to them, How many loaves have you? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies on the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
American King James Version×
). 

In the intense situation in Mark 5:22 Mark 5:22And, behold, there comes one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
American King James Version×
, where Jesus resurrected Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter, Mark records the reaction of those in the room as completely astonished (Mark 5:42 Mark 5:42And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
American King James Version×
); in other words, probably stunned and silent. Jesus responds with something practical and light-hearted: He tells them to give her something to eat (Mark 5:43 Mark 5:43And he charged them straightly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.
American King James Version×
). Jesus used practical knowledge to break a tense situation: The little girl, who had been sick, experienced death, and is now alive and hungry (Biblicalarcheology.org). 

Varieties of joy in scriptures

Joy is used 165 times in the King James version. Here are a few rendered in the Amplified Bible with varied connotations that cultivate peace and joy, helping people recover, heal and be refreshed:  “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy” (Proverbs 12:20 Proverbs 12:20Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.
American King James Version×
). “So, the women left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell [the good news to] the disciples” (Matthew 28:8 Matthew 28:8And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
American King James Version×
).

“Not that we rule [like dictators] over your faith, but rather we work with you for [the increase of] your joy; for in your faith you stand firm [in your strong conviction that Jesus of Nazareth—the Messiah—is the Son of God, through whom we obtain eternal salvation]” (2 Corinthians 1:24 2 Corinthians 1:24Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith you stand.
American King James Version×
).

When the Messiah triumphs over evil and ushers in His millennial reign, surely there will be shouts of joy! That hopeful good news brings calm in times of trouble. This hope should have a centering effect on our well-being, a somber kind of joy—knowing the whole world’s suffering will end soon. God must also be somberly looking forward to bringing that time for all His children to peacefully live their lives in truth (3 John 1:4 3 John 1:4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
American King James Version×
), just as we do with our own children. Joy has a wonderful emotional range, from outrageously wacky to light-hearted puns to calm smiles, thanks to our brilliant, creative designer.