Hope, Laughter, Words of Endurance

God made us in His image.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image,
make them reflecting our nature…
God created human beings,
he created them godlike,
reflecting God’s nature.

So our laughter – unless it is cruel in intent – is a reflection of God’s nature! And part of God’s nature is a sense of humor. For example, God used a donkey – of all things – as a mouthpiece!

Then God gave speech to the donkey.
She said to Balaam:
“What have I ever done to you
that you have beat me these three times?”

Sarah – wife of Abraham – reflected God’s nature when she expressed her sense of humor and pleasure at the birth of her son Isaac when she was over 90 years old!

Abraham was a hundred years old
when his son Isaac was born.
Sarah said,
God has blessed me with laughter
and all who get the news will laugh with me!
She also said,
Whoever would have suggested to Abraham
that Sarah would one day nurse a baby!
Yet here I am! I’ve given the old man a son!

And what is so awesome is that we are promised God’s gift of laughter even after a season of weeping …

God blesses you who weep now,
for in due time you will laugh.
LUKE 6:21 (NLT)

And we are promised that we will be laughing and rejoicing into heaven and eternity!

In the same way God’s ransomed will come back,
come back to Zion cheering, shouting,
Joy eternal wreathing their heads,
exuberant ecstasies transporting them—
and not a sign of moans or groans.

The ability to laugh is one of God’s greatest gifts and a wonderful display of His nature. Plus it is a free gift for the Child of God. Christian humorist Barbara Johnson says …

“Laughter is the cheapest luxury we have.”

So go ahead – let loose – enjoy the blessing of laughter. God just might be laughing with you!

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Cancer, Grief, Hope, Laughter, Words of Endurance

A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

The topic of conversation was laughter, but you never would have guessed it from our friend Don’s expression. A successful businessman with more to do than hours in which to do it, he confessed – “I don’t know how to see the lighter side of life. I take life too seriously. I know I need to ‘lighten up’ but I literally don’t know how.”

Don isn’t alone. Carole feels the same way. Her husband’s death following a decade-long battle against cancer has left her with an overwhelming new job description – widow, single parent, and recovering but exhausted caregiver. “Some mornings,” she says, “it’s all I can do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.” Learning to lighten up simply isn’t on her to-do list. It’s all she can do to survive.

Been there?

Well so has Beth, whose husband Chad suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Chad was diagnosed when she was pregnant with their second child. For the next eighteen years daily life in their home involved life-support equipment, feeding tubes and nurses.

Despite the challenges and uncertainty, their home was anything but gloomy. Early on in Chad’s battle, Beth made a conscious decision to look for the humor in every situation. She knew that if she didn’t the sorrow would overtake her and her family. As a result their home was full of life and laughter – lots of it!

For Beth humor was an important coping mechanism. She agrees wholeheartedly with the person who said, “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper – it doesn’t permanently solve any problems but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”

Beth has learned that she is not in control of the circumstances of life. She can control only how she responds to them. Her response is of the utmost importance because her response sets the emotional tone for her entire family. She can afford to lay her problems down – to loosen her grip – so they don’t consume her every thought. She can relax because she knows who controls the circumstances and who holds her in the protection of His hand.

But what encouragement is there for individuals such as Don and Carole who finds themselves in situations in which they simply are not able to see the lighter side and to make matters worse they may even feel guilty for not being able to lighten up? Oh but take heart because God gives us permission – even encouragement – to express the full range of our emotions. The Scripture says there is …

A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,

And in their book, Dear God, It’s Cancer, authors William Fintel, M.D. and Gerald McDermott, Ph.D. emphasize that …

“… both tears and laughter are gifts of God –
and you need them both
to make it through the trials of cancer.”

So no matter how many tears we shed – no matter how deep and dark the pit we found ourselves in – we have discovered on our own journey that there is always a time to laugh and it sure makes the journey easier to endure. As the comedian Bob Hope – who had the gift to make others laugh – said …

“I have seen what a laugh can do.
It can transform almost unbearable tears
into something bearable –
even hopeful.”

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Healing, Hope, Laughter, Words of Endurance

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Proverbs. Proverbs, the Bible’s book of ancient wisdom, is known for its practical advice for daily living but also for its sound advice for healthy living. I love it when modern scientific research catches up – thousands of years later – and proves God’s advice and wisdom to be true. Take a look at the following health benefits that have been linked to laughter and having a “cheerful heart”.

  1. Reduces immune suppressors such as epinephrine and cortisol.

  2. Benefit: Reduces certain chemicals produced by your body that can have an adverse affect on your immune system.

  3. General increase in immune system activity – specifically “T” cells, “B” cells, immunoglobulins and natural killer cell activity.

  4. Benefit: Increases chemicals in your body that help fight infection and disease.

  5. Increases heart rate.

  6. Benefit: You get a workout without going to the gym!

  7. Temporarily increases blood pressure followed by a prolonged mild decrease in blood pressure.

  8. Benefit: Your vascular system gets a healthy workout! Some researchers call laughing “informal jogging.”

  9. Increases breathing, which raises oxygen consumption.

  10. Benefit: Your respiratory system gets a healthy workout too! After a hearty laugh you frequently have to take in a big breath of air.

  11. Increases muscle relaxation.

  12. Benefit: Your muscles relax, prompting comments such as “I laughed so hard I wet my pants!”

  13. Increases levels of beta-endorphins – natural painkillers in the blood stream.

  14. Benefit: This is why we feel so much better after a good laugh.

  15. Reduces stress due to the above physiological changes.

  16. Benefit: High stress people who laugh easily have shown to be less depressed and anxious than folks who have a gloomier perspective.

So please – no matter what you are presently enduring – enjoy a spoonful of laughter because …

A chuckle a day may not keep the doctor away,
but it sure does make those times in life’s waiting room
a little more bearable.

On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky


Depression, Grief, Guilt, Laughter, Words of Endurance

The nights of crying your eyes out
give way to days of laughter.

Fortunately, the good news for all of us who have endured or are presently enduring a season of brokenness is that our crying will “give way to days of laughter” – that is God’s promise to his children – there is “a time to cry and a time to laugh”. Thank you Lord.

Jan and I can both testify that we did learn to laugh again in the midst of our adversities. We loved comedies and one of our favorite movies at the time was What About Bob – Jan could so identify with Bob! The movie’s humor allowed us to momentarily step out of our reality – get perspective, balance and increase our endorphins – the “feel good” chemicals our body produces when we laugh.

We know it isn’t always easy to find humor or to be humorous in the face of adversity. At our lowest point, God brought into our lives friends, Bob and Patty, who laughed all the time. Their laughter was contagious and through their influence we learned to choose to laugh when our circumstances went awry. They helped us see that we could look at a situation and be frustrated or we could laugh at the situation and build up our endorphins!

We even began to learn to laugh at ourselves. Our first experience at laughing at ourselves was when years ago we spoke at our home church about pain and suffering. For Jan it was always a little traumatic when we spoke together. She is “Miss Organized” and has to have everything planned out. I am more spontaneous and it drives her nuts. One of the last things she said to me before we spoke was, “Dave, please don’t digress. When you do that I don’t know what to say – please Dave, stick to the notes!!!”

I’ll let her finish the story …

“To my surprise our talk went well at the Saturday night service and again at the 8:00 am service on Sunday so by the 9:15 service – the only service they videotape and audiotape – I was feeling good. I was really comfortable – perhaps too comfortable – because in the middle of the presentation where I normally said prolonged stress affects the brain, I looked out into the congregation and said, prolonged sex affects the brain!!!! The audience gasped – I then realized what I had just said!

For a moment I was horrified and didn’t know what to do. Then I realized the humor in my mistake so I looked at Dave with a great big grin on my face and said I can’t believe I just said sex! My honesty gave everyone permission to laugh – and with that the congregation started to roar with laughter! Dave was rocking back and forth on his seat and had tears running down his face he was laughing so hard. Then he picked up his Jan prepared notes and said ‘I don’t know about you honey, but that isn’t in my notes!’ I then started to howl and the congregation howled with me!!!”

There we were in the midst of talking about pain and suffering and we were laughing! It took a few minutes for us to regain our composure and continue with our talk. It was good to learn later that after the service they sold a record number of audio and videotapes – this made us laugh again!

I realize that you may not be in a place where you can laugh right now. If that is your situation – don’t feel guilty. But do remember that laughter is a gift. It doesn’t mean we deny the reality of what is happening but it does provide a momentary distraction from the pain. It is a healthy diversion – good for the body as well as for the soul. When we choose to laugh our difficulties become easier to bear. It is also good to remember …

For everything there is a season,
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.

On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky