Smile and Have A Sense of Good Humour! (GS Letter July 2020)

A joyful heart is good medicine – Proverbs 17:22a, ESV

In the last six months it is understandably difficult for us to be cheerful and jovial, especially knowing of the multitudes of people who have lost their lives or livelihoods due to the Covid-19. The present atmosphere is justifiably gloomy, and the ambience is reasonably depressing. It is hard to appreciate laughter or even a smile.

The above proclivity in one way or another also affected me, until recently when I read and reflected on the above verse in Proverbs about the joyful heart as a biblical prescription for a good life, followed by watching a Netflix documentary about Pope Francis “A Man of His Words”. Having expressed his thoughts on various global issues that the church is facing now, in the epilogue, he exhorts a wise and simple, but unexpected and profound answer to how we, as Christians, can make a real impact on one another’s lives in our day-to-day walk. His advice is that Christians can smile more and learn to appreciate or cultivate a sense of good humour.

He continues by sharing that at the beginning of his day, he often prays the Prayer for Good Humour by St Thomas More. Allow me to quote the prayer in full here, so this could also be our personal prayer.

Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good
and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs,
nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.

Since then, I am reminded to learn to take things in life with a more exuberant perspective. Once, when I stood before a long queue entering a supermarket, instead of grumbling due to the long waiting time, I realised that the snaking queue formed looked like a hilarious and colourful worm. On another occasion, it brightened my day to watch an old couple burst into laughter while they tried to walk while holding one another’s arms on one hand and a walking stick on the other hand.

I attempt to bring this similar outlook to my ministry. With a cheerful heart, signing hundreds of GS letters every month does not feel like a burden. Making light-hearted chats or sharing recent humorous experiences with my staff and students, when I meet them now via WhatsApp or Zoom, is not a mere conversation starter, but more importantly, something that connects us deeper. I believe that a good ministry team must be able to work well and have fun together.

In addition to that, I can testify that it is indeed true that laughter is contagious and invaluable for the work of the gospel. Once while having a good laugh with a student on campus, another student passing by noticed and asked us why we were so jolly and full of life. That question led to a longer conversation, which eventually brought that inquiring student to know Christ.

The current sombre situation may not revert fast. The economic recession may last longer. However, our heart’s attitude can change regardless of the gloomy situation around us. Like the above verse and prayer, humour and laughter can indeed be “a good medicine” as they cultivate “a simple soul…that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil.”

Therefore, let us smile more and cultivate a sense of good humour!

In His grace,

Lisman Komaladi
General Secretary