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Thou shalt laugh!

When wisely used, humor awakens us to the dynamic well-being that exists where fear and pain seem so real.

From the June 28, 2010 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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JOY is an essential ingredient required in prayer-based healing. It's the resilient quality of divine Soul, God. It allows us to smile when things get difficult, and this is possible because, although it seems otherwise, we are spiritual. Christian Science teaches that our spiritual, Soul-created selfhood is intact and cannot be harmed in any way.

It may be pretty easy to grasp how joy relates to healing, but ... humor? And laughter? Christ Jesus' words encourage us, "Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh" (Luke 6:21). Humor can actually erase pain caused by the belief that we were ever matter-based or something less than pure Soul expressed. When wisely used, humor awakens us to the dynamic well-being which exists where fear and pain seem so real.

Now, of course it's cruel to laugh at another's misfortune. It's also unloving to make light of suffering and unwise to ignore it. It's important to recognize the difference between allowing the humor of Soul to inspire us and trivializing another's misfortune. Every trouble should be quickly and persistently dealt with until gone.

But the joy that remains when things get difficult is genuine, not flimsy or fake, because it springs from spiritual understanding. Mary Baker Eddy, in her healing ministry, discovered the importance of this understanding. She wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "It is well to be calm in sickness; to be hopeful is still better; but to understand that sickness is not real and that Truth can destroy its seeming reality, is best of all, for this understanding is the universal and perfect remedy" (pp. 393–394).

Spiritual understanding and joy that lead to a good laugh are a potent combination. Joy might seem to be a mortal mood that comes and goes, or doesn't come at all. But joy is actually always present because it's an immortal attribute of Soul and a quality we constantly express. Both spiritual understanding and joy sharpen as we learn more about God.

In my healing practice of Christian Science, I've seen how Soul is the source of our individuality and selfhood. Soul builds with immortal fabric. The tones, textures, and colors of each of our experiences are divine. Soul is happy and satisfied with us. Soul should be. We exist to express Soul's joy, buoyancy, serenity, poise, and peace. There is, in truth, no reason or place for fear or suffering, ever. We express the understanding and spiritual strength to mentally protest against these errors and live our lives without them—and live with good humor! Let me give you some examples.

My wife, Joanne, and I were cleaning leaves out of a rain gutter. Joanne reached into the gutter to remove some leaves that wouldn't budge. As she did, she was stung on the finger by a red wasp. She immediately felt pain. We were confident, though, that the pain would quickly go because we'd been learning that instead of allowing or sending pain, God comforts and heals us. Yet, the pain increased. Joanne lay down on the couch and also phoned a Christian Science practitioner for help. But the mesmerism of pain just wouldn't seem to yield. I asked if there was anything I could do, and she requested that I sing to her. "If you think you're in pain now," I was inspired to say, "just wait till I start singing!" Joanne laughed out loud, and the pain disappeared. She was free.

What happened in that case? As we laugh, we look away from the troubles we've been locked in on. This causes us to loosen our grip on fear and sadness. This allows us at that very moment to experience healing and restoration and joy. The Christ is the power behind the humor (that causes the laughter) which heals and restores.

It's possible to still smile and laugh during difficult situations when we trust Soul's healing power and constant care. We gain confidence in this care as we experience it again and again. Psalms tells us, "Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee" (5:11).

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy explained the necessity of sometimes startling a patient to break their dream of suffering—and she wrote: "If it becomes necessary to startle mortal mind to break its dream of suffering, vehemently tell your patient that he must awake. Turn his gaze from the false evidence of the senses to the harmonious facts of Soul and immortal being" (p. 420).

Humor that's animated by the Christ is a problem solver. It is not just another technique or a form of mortal, mental gymnastics that we're going through that stays at the level of human mentality. It's spiritual action. It's that alarm clock that awakens us spiritually and morally.

Several years ago, a casting director called my brother and me because she needed twins for a movie. It was filmed outside Austin, Texas, during the heat of the summer. My brother and I had the use of an air-conditioned trailer while we were on the set. But the extras in the movie dressed and relaxed in tents without air conditioning.

While on the set one afternoon, we learned that a young girl, one of the extras, wasn't feeling well. She had a high temperature and was in pain. I went to the extras' tents and asked the young girl's mother if she would like to bring her to our trailer where she could be more comfortable. She agreed.

When this girl was resting on the couch, I sat by her and felt inspired to tell her this story:

There was an old horse on a farm that fell into an empty well. The owner of the farm, feeling that neither the horse nor the well was worth the expense of freeing the horse, decided to fill the well, burying the horse.

So the farmer began to shovel dirt into the well. But each time he threw in a shovelful of dirt, the horse would shake it off and stand on top of the dirt. The more dirt the farmer threw into the well, the higher the horse rose, until he was finally high enough and walked right out of the well.

The young girl laughed. I then told her that regardless of what negative experiences were dumped on her, she could always choose to shake them off and walk out of any well she found herself in. Even if her body hurt or she felt alone or empty, she expressed God's joy and well-being. She could be free. She then stood up, shook her head, stamped her feet, and told me she felt fine. She went back to the extras' tents, feeling well. I don't believe it was those few minutes in air conditioning that brought about this change. Nor was it just a good laugh. I believe it was God, Soul, the healing action that takes place when Soul's spiritual understanding and joy unite.

The reason humor helps in healing is that spiritual healing is a mental activity. What we think has everything to do with how we live. Since the nature of reality is thought, a change of thought naturally leads to adjustments in our bodies and lives. Humor, with Soul behind it, changes thought because it takes our focus off troubles and enables us to see that God has never been absent.

Maybe humor isn't going to be in a very large percentage of the healings that take place spiritually. But we want to be open to all the avenues, the varieties in which the Christ can awaken thought. And humor is one of them. That underlying, deeper spiritual sense of joy is always there. Humor breaks our fixation on the problem. Then, temptation, fear, sorrow, and pain begin to fade.

Harmony and health are here. It's those transformations of thought that allow the body to approximate the healthy and settled state of Soul, punctuated by genuine joy. ♦

FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC

To hear Keith Wommack speak on this topic, tune in to Sentinel Radio during the week of June 26–July 2, 2010. For a listing of broadcast locations and times, go to www.sentinelradio.com. To purchase a download of this radio program, #1026, on or after June 26, go to www.sentinelradio.com and click on Audio Download Store.


Keith Wommack teaches and practices Christian Science healing from his home base in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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