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Sunday, March 25, 2012

A tear or two

There is a saying which goes something like, "If I didn't laugh, I'd cry!"  Golda Meir said, "Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either."  One of the most popular columns in the Reader's Digest is the "Laughter is the Best Medicine" feature.  Why is it we enjoy laughter more than tears?  Maybe our answer is found in our passage today.


22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.  (Proverbs 17:22 The Message)


A cheerful disposition is good for our health!  Sadness leaves us feeling like we have been wrung out and left to dry out like a washrag.  Ever see a dried washrag?  It is brittle, stinky, and pretty inflexible!  No wonder we enjoy the laughter so much!


There is an old Jewish proverb which goes, "What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul."  Think on this one for a moment.  Tears have a real "cathartic" effect, don't they?  We may feel a little "wrung out" for a while, but there is definitely something "cleansing" in having shed those tears.  William Shakespeare reminds us, "To weep is to make less the depth of grief."  So, tears are really not a bad thing.


So, why is it we prefer laughter to tears?  Go again to our passage - the clue lies in the word "disposition".  You see, it is not the tears which do us in, it is the disposition!  The prevailing "tendency" of our spirit is what determines either the sense of release, or the turmoil of remaining under an overwhelming burden.  When the "tendency" of our spirit is consistently submitted to God's will and his love, even the tears of sorrow can leave us liberated!


Laughter is a good thing indeed.  I enjoy a good belly-splitting laugh now and again.  The kind which leaves you with tears leaking from your eyes and your side hurting.  There is nothing as enjoyable as sharing some laughter with a friend.  In fact, to make light of a "faux-pas" is often the most delightful release!  


Disposition is everything.  How we approach life's challenges is based on our disposition - the "set of our spirit".  It is truly a sad thing to be so weighed down by life's griefs until it affects the very bones of our frame!  Yet, there are many who carry loads beyond their bearing - all because they choose a disposition which holds onto their grief instead of letting it go!


Why do you think the scriptures warn against holding onto unforgiveness?  Easy!  It affects our disposition of spirit!  We call its effect "bitterness" - it makes us "sour" on people, life, and sometimes God.  Why does scripture advise not to turn our backs on wise counsel?  Simple!  Unwise counsel trips us up and gets us down on ourselves.  Gloom and doom leave you "bone-tired".  As a nurse, I know this to be a fact.  I see many a "worn-out" soul carrying many a burden beyond their capacity - all because they cannot let it go!


As some food for thought today, here's one final quote:  "Time engraves our faces with all the tears we have not shed."  (Natalie Clifford Barney)  What is your face telling you about your disposition?  Maybe it is time for a little release of what we have kept so deeply pent up for some time!