Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief. Proverbs 14: 13
We often hear the expression, “Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.” We never know what an individual is feeling and some may give the impression that they are enjoying life and are happy, when actually they are hurting emotionally, deep inside. They have such sadness, pain, and grief in their lives, and yet, they mask it to others with their laughter in order to hide their pain. Or others may truly try to experience happiness and laughter, but there is a deep shadow or a damper on any attempt to feel joy. Their hearts may be full of sorrow because of all the hurtful memories of the past or because of their hopeless, gloomy outlook for the future.
What heaviness of heart they carry around. Yet, for many, this is their reality and all they know. And even if they can step away from it for a while and feel a lightness of spirit with laughter, the heaviness may be that much greater when it returns. And how many times have we heard stories of how “joy has ended in grief” in the midst of celebrations and events of great joy. Life can be so uncertain and full of pain, but gratefully we have a loving God who understands and longs to fill our hearts with His love and presence.
Life is indeed a mystery. Why do some seem to have so much joy and others are filled with so much pain?
I am reminded of one of my favorite stories, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, in which he wrote, “Upon reflection, we can conclude that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.”
Food for thought. It’s so true that circumstances in our lives can often bring sadness and despair, but how thankful we can be for the gift of smiles and laughter.
We know Solomon attempted to find the meaning of life in Ecclesiastes, and he wrote the following (2: 1 – 3): “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter’, I said, ‘is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?’ I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly – my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during their lives.”
Solomon finally concluded that a life with God is the only thing that matters and the only thing that can bring meaning to life and pure joy.
I have learned in my “old age” wisdom, that there can be a distinct difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is often fleeting and may last for moments or for only short periods of time, but spiritual joy is seated in the soul. Joy in Christ can bring an eternal satisfaction, contentment, and joy that you can’t imagine until you experience that deep and true relationship with God for yourself.
He wants us to feel that joy and commands us “to rejoice evermore!” He can lighten our heaviness of heart, refresh our spirits with His love and grace, and fill our minds “with a peace that transcends all understanding.”
He can give us hearts of laughter and joy and longs for us to tell others of what life with Him can be. May we be more mindful of those around us who might be hurting and share the message of His love. May they too come to know contentment, joy, and peace through His grace.
Our Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and wanting us to find joy in you. Fill our hearts with laughter and our spirits with hope, peace, and true contentment in life. Open our hearts to those who may be hurting around us and who need to know of the life they can have in you. Amen