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Laughter as medicine

A devotion on cheerful hearts despite circumstances

The last 24 hours had been a stream of hard circumstances. Three messages informed me of someone’s death and two unrelated medical diagnoses. All of this while I was spending a few days visiting my friend, Jen, and her husband who is living with brain cancer. He just spent three days in the hospital, and they came home exhausted and drained. 

I felt a little overloaded emotionally and mad that these bad things were happening to people who are kindhearted, fun to be around and selfless. I opened the Bible app on my phone and scanned a chapter in Proverbs.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." – Proverbs 17:22

I stared at my phone screen in bewilderment. I was pretty certain I couldn’t will myself to be cheerful right then.

Then I remembered a moment from the night before. Rusty was losing most of the mobility in his left arm. Jen suggested she should trim his fingernails since it’s impossible to do with one hand. Sitting side-by-side on the couch, he made a joke about her cutting his fingertip and she protested in return. She got to work anyway and when they switched hands, he said, “Please be careful with this one; it’s the one that still works.” 

All three of us laughed. The reason behind his joke was unchanged, but it still felt good to laugh. 

A cheerful heart is good medicine.

According to the Mayo Clinic, medical research has proven that laughter has physiological benefits for our hearts, lungs and muscles. It also increases the intake of oxygen-rich air and releases endorphins in the brain. Over the long term, it can improve our immune systems.

If laughter cured brain cancer, I wouldn’t be recounting this story. It is, however, given to us by a God who won’t stop reminding us of his love and everlasting peace.

Find something to laugh about with someone today. It’s a good gift from God.

Written by Susan Simmons, director of development communications for Buckner International.

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