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A Charge to Laugh Well and Laugh Often

September 11, 2019
By Pastor Stephen Unthank

A Charge to Laugh Well and Laugh Often

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.” Ecclesiastes 11:9

            Pastor Unthank was asked to give the charge at the end-of-year Awards Assembly. Enjoy his exhortation to laugh.

           Have you heard that ancient Chinese curse which parents would proclaim on only the most disobedient of their children? The parent, looking at their bad kid, would proclaim: “O, may you live in interesting times!” Turn on the news and you may be tempted to think that that curse has finally landed upon us—these are interesting times we live in, to say the least.[1]

            But I think it’s more encouraging to point out that for every child at Rockbridge Academy, there is the blessing of parents who in the midst of these interesting times were concerned enough, in sending their kids to a classical Christian school no less, to have their children grow and live and participate wisely in such a cursed world. This is the world we live in, a world that is East of Eden. Fallen. And it is groaning as it waits for Christ’s final, all-encompassing redemption. While we wait, we seek wisdom—wisdom for how to live in these interesting days.

            We live in an age of atomic power, but also under the threat of nuclear proliferation. It is an age of globalized trade but also worldwide terrorism. We enjoy the freedom of instant communication but we’re also extremely individualized, more isolated, more distracted. We live in a time of liberty and free association but crumbling relationships and confused identities. Our economy seems to be doing fantastic, yet the very fabric of our society seems to be ripping at the center.[2]

            I don’t want you to be overly-burdened by the Goliath outside we call “the World”—that is far too serious a thing to be thinking about as we head into the summer; and, as Peter Kreeft puts it, life is already too serious enough to be taken too seriously. No, Psalm 2 tells us that God, who sits in the heavens laughs, and if we are to be heavenly minded at all I think we need to laugh right along with Him. If that’s true, and I think it is, then we ought to laugh often.

            So, my first charge to all of you is to make sure you spend your summer laughing—it not only prepares your heart for glory, but laughter is often the sound wisdom makes in the midst of a fallen world. Consider Solomon’s charge in Ecclesiastes 11:9, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.” So, young men and women, obey God and go have fun this summer!

            Of course, the very next verse says, you should know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. So, don’t get weird this summer. Just make sure you laugh and that you’re laughing at the right things. Your laughing should be good and beautiful and true laughter.

            Hang out with your friends and tell good stories late into the night and laugh about it. Parents, chase your young kids around the house this summer and tickle them until the laughing hurts. Watch the funniest movies and laugh until your cry. Dads, this is your summer! Work hard and sharpen your dad jokes. They may not show it but, trust me, your kids are laughing on the inside.

            Solomon tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. And my prayer for you all is that this summer would be a sweet time filled with laughter. Good, godly laughter.

            This is, again, just a small part of what it means to live as wise people in a fallen world. We can laugh because we know how this story ends—in the end God will wipe away every tear. Scripture does not say He will wipe away our laughter. No, we will keep on laughing with the God who created laughter.

            When the Son of God became incarnate and Jesus began his ministry he was known as a Man of Sorrows; Isaiah tells us he was someone deeply acquainted with grief. And yet, he came eating and drinking, he was a friend to tax collectors and sinners and there is, to be sure, no greater incubator for laughter than the very human quality of friendship. The Pharisee’s must’ve hated Jesus’ laughter—it highlighted their own gloomy existence!

            As followers of Christ—as the spiritual descendants of his redemptive work upon the cross—my charge for you is to walk boldly into these interesting times with a joyful heart, a heart that can still find time to laugh even in the ever increasing darkness that we call East of Eden. Consider Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who in the face of the greatest darkness the world would ever see—the crucifixion of the Son of God—He was able still to endure the cross and despise its shame. Why? Because of the joy that was set before him.

            In Jesus Christ, our future is set—there is a glorious inheritance to be enjoyed, unending joy with Christ, laughing as we inevitably will be around the table and feast which Revelation calls the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

            No matter how dark the world around us gets, no matter how interesting our era becomes, remember Christ and look forward to Christ and in him find true joy. Laugh well and laugh often!


[1] See Leon R. Kass, Leading A Worthy Life: Finding Meaning In Modern Times, (Encounter Books, New York,2017) p. 9.

[2] ibid, p. 9.

Posted in School Culture
Kenneth Hart says:
May 06, 2021 05:30 AM CST