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.