Monday, November 1, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: The Gift

The Gift of Laughter
A devotional by Tema Banner

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
–Job 8:21 (NIV)

As we turn the calendar to November, we who live in the USA think of Thanksgiving.

Many people in this country favor this holiday. Families and friends gather for the sole purpose of breaking bread and speaking aloud those things for which we are thankful. This holiday, more than any other, speaks to the heart of how God created us: as beings created to glorify Him with praises of thanksgiving and joy and to serve kindness up to our fellow man.

Family, health, and employment usually top the list of items on our gratitude list. But what God placed on my mind and heart to be thankful for today is laughter.

I was surprised to discover that the book of Job is tied with Genesis for the most mentions of laughter. If you have ever read the suffering and sorrow that Job endured, you too are likely surprised. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for many years. But now as November arrives, I have other memories that darken my mind ahead of our family gathering. The first day of November marks the anniversary of the passing of my son, Steven.

Thoughts batter my mind of what I could have done differently, with hopes of a different outcome. Laughter is in short supply the week leading up to the first, fighting the threat of tears is more the order of the day. Laughter is one of the many joys that Steven brought into the lives of those he knew. The beauty is that laughter did not leave this world with him. God never promised an easy life or one that would fall into place as we plan. Life can change in a matter of seconds and leave you wondering what happened and asking if you will ever be able to smile again, let alone laugh.

Laughter is vital to our recovery, even when it is laughter through tears. The more I remember the laughter my son brought into my life, the more I laugh anew at his antics, and the more my heart heals. I realize that as Sarah said in Genesis 21:6, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Laughter is indeed a gift, and it is not the only one that helps us heal. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that having a cheerful heart is also beneficial to our livelihood and health. These are gifts from God that we do not always think of when we are counting our blessings.

We live in a world that is bent on destroying the good gifts that God has bestowed on us. Therefore, we would be wise to cultivate the laughter and cheerfulness in our lives.

How can we do this?

First, ask God to open your eyes and your heart to the blessings He has given you. Sometimes we become accustomed to what we have, and we no longer recognize it as a gift from our loving Father (God).

Second, our brains are wired to think negatively, but we can change this by taking simple steps, such as writing out a scripture of hope and meditating on it, place it on your mirror so you’ll see it first thing every morning.

Third, recognize negative thoughts, give them to God and replace them with a positive thought.

It won’t happen overnight, but eventually you will create a good habit of positive thoughts which will make it easier to laugh and give you a cheerful heart.

Do you have an activity that brings you pleasure that perhaps has gotten lost over the past two years? My activity is walking. I enjoy nature and it is a special time between me and Jesus. Surprisingly, working from home seems to have curtailed my walking. It is important to push away from the world of work and take a stroll with God. He will refresh your soul and return laughter to your lips, just as He promised.

Let’s Pray: Thank you God for the beautiful gift of laughter! When I hear it flow uninhibited from the mouth of a toddler, I recognize what a beautiful gift you have given us. Thank you, Lord, for the memory of past laughter that still brings us joy. Lord, this Thanksgiving season bind the hearts of those who mourn with Your everlasting, unstoppable, love. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Writing stories that take the reader on a journey to parts unknown has been a lifelong love for Tema. She enjoys all history and continues daily to hone both her knowledge of history and her writing skills. 

God is her guiding light and the reason for every endeavor in her life. She is a member of the South Carolina ACFW chapter as well as an active member of her local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers.

Tema has served as past President and Secretary as well as holding various chair positions of her local RWA Chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. She is the honored recipient of the Harold Lowery Service Award, presented by the Carolina Romance Writers.

God has gifted her with a loving husband, two children and four grandchildren who are the delight of her life.

In her spare time, she gardens and digs into genealogy for nuggets to use in her stories.

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