Thursday, December 07, 2017

and she laughs at the time to come

If you don't recognize that line in the title, it's from Proverbs 31:25b, talking about the excellent wife. I find it to be a Biblical passage that many women have very mixed feelings about, myself included. It's a great thing to try to live up to, but, geez, can anyone? Instead of inspiring, I feat it too often becomes demoralizing. But that's not really why I'm bringing it up today.

What I want to discuss is the idea of the excellent wife laughing. I don't know about you, but I have always found the line to feel a little incongruent. I mean, here you have this woman who is so good at so many things. She doesn't waste time, she gets up before dawn, she stays up late at night, working, working, working. I always picture her if not actually frowning, at least looking stern. Relaxed and laughing just doesn't seem to fit a woman who is never idle. Has anyone else felt this way about this verse?

Then today, a friend posted a quote from Martin Luther which I had never heard before.

"You have as much laughter as you have faith."

This struck me rather forcefully, and immediately called to mind the excellent wife. At least for me, it made that line about laughter suddenly make a lot more sense. Not only was the excellent wife productive and capable, it also says she was wise and kind. Wisdom in the Biblical sense is knowing and fearing God. She must have had great faith. And if Martin Luther is correct, then with great faith comes great laughter. Of course she laughed.

And of course she laughed at the time to come; the future. Think about it, our fear is more often than not rooted in what the future holds. Unless we are in a terribly dire situation where we are fearful in that moment, the rest of our fear is all about imagined possibilities of the future. I am the queen of this. I can go from normal to panicked in about three seconds just from misusing my imagination. Since very few of these imaginings ever actually come about, no matter how very possible they feel in the moment, that's a lot of energy spent on absolutely nothing. And when we are fearful (about the future), that usually makes us less than pleasant people to be around. I know I'm not a lot of fun when I'm busy convincing myself the sky is about to fall. I'm certainly not laughing.

On the face of it, it doesn't seem as though it would be a faith issue, but it is. I may say that I believe that God's in charge, that all things work together for an ultimate good, but my actions reveal otherwise. If I truly believe that God has my best interest at heart, then why do I spend far too much time being fearful about what is to come? What is even crazier about all this is that I have story after story after story of how God has repeatedly proved His faithfulness to me time and again. 

What if we really lived in a way that reflected what we said we believed. That things may not turn out as expected; that God may ask us to go through some hard stuff; but through all of it, God is with us, and ultimately things are going to turn out for the best. God really does have our back. What if we believed this to the extent that we lived like it. 

It would be joyful. We don't have to worry about things because God is taking care of it. The burden of fear and worry could be lifted off our shoulders. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If we truly believed this and lived it, we would laugh. It would come bubbling out of us for the sheer joy of it all. There really should never be such a thing as a dour and overly serious Christian, because truly believing in what God has promised us would make us into the exact opposite. We are to be joyful. Joyful people laugh.

Does this mean we won't ever be sad or disappointed or angry? No, of course not. Life, while still in God's hands, is also being lived in a fallen world and we cannot escape these things. But after the hard, we are promised joy. I also have been learning that even through the hard and painful parts of life, there are still joyful parts of it to be found, living side by side. This side of Heaven, joy and sorrow live side by side, and the older I get, the more I experience both of these things happening at the same time.

We know the end of the story, though. We don't have to wonder or fear. The best really is yet to come. And for that we can laugh. We can laugh like young children living in a secure and loving family, because in God's eyes, that is exactly what we are.

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

This post reminds me of a quote out of Frederick Buechner's book, "The Sacred Journey":

PART OF THE FARCE was that for the first time in my life that year in New York, I started going to church regularly, and what was farcical about it was not that I went but my reason for going, which was simply that on the same block where I lived there happened to be a church with a preacher I had heard of and that I had nothing all that much better to do with my lonely Sundays. The preacher was a man named George Buttrick, and Sunday after Sunday I went, and sermon after sermon I heard. It was not just his eloquence that kept me coming back, though he was wonderfully eloquent, literate, imaginative, never letting you guess what he was going to come out with next but twitching with surprises up there in the pulpit, his spectacles aglitter in the lectern light. What drew me more was whatever it was that his sermons came from and whatever it was in me that they touched so deeply. And then there came one particular sermon with one particular phrase in it that does not even appear in a transcript of his words that somebody sent me more than twenty-five years later so I can only assume that he must have dreamed it up at the last minute and ad-libbed it and on just such foolish, tenuous, holy threads as that, I suppose, hang the destinies of us all. Jesus Christ refused the crown that Satan offered him in the wilderness, Buttrick said, but he is king nonetheless because again and again he is crowned in the heart of the people who believe in him. And that inward coronation takes place, Buttrick said, "among confession, and tears, and great laughter." It was the phrase great laughter that did it, did whatever it was that I believe must have been hiddenly in the doing all the years of my journey up till then. It was not so much that a door opened as that I suddenly found that a door had been open all along which I had only just then stumbled upon. After church, with a great lump still in my throat, I walked up to 84th Street to have Sunday dinner with Grandma Buechner. She sat in her usual chair with the little Philco silent at her side and a glass of sherry in her hand, and when I told her something of what had happened, I could see that she was as much bemused as pleased by what I had said. I have forgotten her words, but the sense of her answer was that she was happy for me that I had found whatever it was that I had found, Le bon Dieu. You could never be sure what he was up to. If there was a bon Dieu at all. Who could say? Then old Rosa came listing in to say Essen ist fertig, Frau B├╝chner, and we went in to lunch.-Originally published in The Sacred Journey

Sorry for the wall of text.

An online friend told me I should check out your blog because my husband and I are facing a challenge with our oldest son. I hope it's ok that I send you an email... I know you must be incredibly busy with your family but if it's ok, I would love your input.

Carla said...

Love this. I needed to hear the connection between faith and laughter.

And it is Proverbs, not Psalms. =) (It's good to know you don't project perfection on your blog... ) =)

thecurryseven said...

Jennifer,

I love this quote. Thank you for sharing. Buechner has been on my list to read for a while now. And yes, email away!

Carla,

Gah! Yes, of course, it's Proverbs. This is what comes of not proof reading. I guess I'll go and change it now. Thanks!

e

papa smurf said...

One of the best things I have read in a very long time!

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