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 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?
“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). The earth is even described as being joyful in Psalms 98:8.
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).
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).
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). Other notable passages include: “Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” (Matthew 23:27); “the speck and the log” (Matthew 7:3-5). 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).
In the intense situation in Mark 5:22, where Jesus resurrected Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter, Mark records the reaction of those in the room as completely astonished (Mark 5:42); 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). 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). “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).
“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).
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), 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.