Want to know the secret to world peace? What if I told you it was easier and more fun than a day of hard work?
I’ve grown up with a phrase. Any time self-doubt, depression or frustration sought to overpower me, my mum always said, “Don’t let it steal your joy.” And the reminder was there to find my joy in the Lord.
In Nehemiah chapter 8, verse 10 it says near the end, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.”Have you heard this so often it’s lost it’s significance and depth? It had for me. I spoke it by rote, there was no life behind the words, until a few weeks ago…
Fresh Revelations Concerning Joy
A group of friends and I were praying and one of them had put together a list of the wars taking place in the world right now. It was longer than I’d imagined.
The weight of hardship people in those countries face felt heavy - how was I to know where to begin to pray? I closed my eyes, trying to focus, when I heard a gentle whisper, “My joy is your strength.”
What did that have to do with praying for war-torn nations?
Then I was reminded of a video I’d seen. The central focus is on a young girl and is a montage spanning a year of her life. It starts off on her birthday. She has a huge smile, her eyes dance with light as she holds up a birthday cake.
As the video progresses, there’s an explosion and it’s revealed she’s living in the middle of a warring country. Each day, the light in her eyes dims and the smile becomes forced until she no longer has the energy to fake it.
In the end, the girl’s eyes are vacant, the natural glow of her skin is gone, her shimmering hair is limp and dry. She becomes a shell of a little girl who has no joy or energy to even blow the candles out on her birthday cake.
I’m pretty sure the video is a dramatisation, but it’s still powerful.
As I thought over the whispered words of moments before and this contrast of what war can do to a person, something clicked. I needed to pray for the joy of the Lord to be renewed in these places.
I found myself praying one of the oddest prayers of my life. “Lord, send more comedians to these countries, so they can learn to laugh again.”
Was laughter another key? I pulled out my phone and did a quick google search for the benefits of laugher…
Laughter, lowers blood pressure. It decreases stress and anxiety to reduce the chance of depression. It improves cardiac health, and is a great work out for your abs.
According to one list, laughter helps reduce pain because it releases endorphins which work better against pain than the same amount of morphine. It also boosts your immune system to help you live longer.
A study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, discovered that adding humour to lectures increased test scores. And another said laughter helped activate your whole brain, which aids creativity.
This is only a glimpse of the good, healthy benefits I found on laughter. But it made me realise how important and vital it is for us to laugh.
Fresh Revelations Concerning Strength
As I continued to pray, a story began to awaken in me…
It followed a country ravaged by war, where people were motivated by vengeance and anger.
In this dark land, entered someone like Robin William’s “Patch Adams” (a doctor whose actions were motivated by a desire to make people laugh).
As my imaginary story unfolded, I saw how laughter and God’s joy brought world leaders together through humour. Their vengeance and anger gone because of a shared laugh.
It reminded me of this short film where a group of bored strangers on a train get the giggles. I dare you to watch this without laughing.
While the current world situations and even the personal issues each of us face can seem, and are, much more complicated than this simple story, I was reminded of how Jesus told us to become like little children.
They don’t worry about difficulties. They live in the moment, trusting their parents for protection.
Put aside all the obstacles and worry for a moment and consider the times when laughter diffused arguments in your own life. Could the solution to these world issues be so simple?
The Hebrew word for “strength” found in Nehemiah, means ‘a place of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold, fastness, or a harbour.’ Meaning the joy of the Lord is a place or means of safety and protection. A refuge and stronghold. A harbour against whatever life throws our way.
Whether you’re facing a hardship, or enduring a time of pain, or suffering, or if you find yourself in a country on the verge of war, remember the joy of the Lord is your strength. If more people tried this, I believe we’d see world peace.
For now, we may not be able to leave those hardships behind for good, because people are fallible and forgetful, but if we do our part and trust God’s strength in those situations His joy really will lead us to peace and happiness.
Originally published on Christian Today.