When I started working at World Vision a few years ago, I thought I would be steeped in the world’s misery and suffering. While there’s no denying the pain and suffering of this world, there’s also no denying its goodness.
It’s what I think about when I see this picture of a young Chinese boy living in Luchun County, populated by ethnic minorities and known as one of the poorest counties in China.
It’s clear to see, he’s a joyous boy. I have to ask myself, where does this joy come from? And amid the nightly world news and even what I hear about going on in my neighborhood, can I have this joy?
It’s a timely question, as Wednesday, Jan. 24, is set aside for Global Belly Laugh Day. I feel like I could use it.
Laughter is the tonic of life, according to life experts ranging from Pastor Joel Osteen to poet E.E. Cummings, who said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
“Joy is strength,” Joel said last month in his daily newsletter. “When you have his supernatural joy, you can stand strong no matter what’s going on around you. You might say, ‘I’m just not a real jovial person. I’m more serious. I never laugh much.’ And of course, God made us all differently, but you can train yourself to laugh more. One article said that the average child laughs over 200 times a day, but the average adult only laughs four times a day. What’s happened? We’ve allowed the pressures of life, stress, and more responsibilities, little by little, to steal our joy.”
The good doctors at the Mayo clinic could not agree more and extol the many short-term and long-term benefits of a hearty and healthy belly laugh.
This leads me to one of the more curious passages of the Bible: God loves a cheerful giver. I’ve heard that translated as a hilarious giver. For me, it seems counter-intuitive to be cheerful when I’m opening up my wallet — just being real here.
But the passage makes it clear that a cheerful giver isn’t reckless; instead, the joy of giving comes after thoughtfulness and consideration. Kind of like that feeling you get when you’re about to surprise someone with a gift you know will rock their world.
Giving that way, in the spirit of the 2 Corinthians 9 passage, loosens a guy like me up.
Now I like to think of the person on the other end of my giving, like this young child in a village in China, wearing flip-flops and a smudged T-shirt and short pants, and that my gift will somehow bring this kind of laughter to a lot of children and their families.
So this Belly Laugh Day, find a reason to laugh, find a reason to give.
And if you’re still feeling curmudgeonly, check out this video and start Belly Laugh Day on the right note.