Have you ever had a book dedicated to you? Well, now you do. Here’s the dedication in my latest book. “To our loyal Laugh Again audience. Even the guy who shook my hand and said, “I listen to you every day on the radio. I had an image of you in my mind. Um, uh, I prefer that image.” Thanks for your encouragement, your prayers, and your comments. Most of them.”
When I was four, I told my mother, “I wanna grow up and be a comedian.” She thought about that and said, “Well son, you can’t do both.” She was right. You can’t grow up and do what I do. Each day I go looking for something that will deliver a shot of hope to listeners and readers.
I couldn’t know how badly Mom would need that hope. Abused as a child, she spent an excessive amount of my boyhood “sick.” I’m told I would bounce into her bedroom, Tigger-like, say funny things and make funny faces—anything to coax a smile. If I got it right, she would giggle, crawl out of bed, and make me lunch. It was my first paying gig, I suppose.
Laughter is good medicine for the depressed and anxious. The science on this is airtight. But in time I discovered firsthand that as great a gift as laughter is, the more we age, the more elusive it becomes.
When our kids were small my wife Ramona was tested for Huntington’s Disease, a fatal hereditary disorder. Three of her siblings had been diagnosed with it. Grand Mal seizures were taking hold of her. Every half hour. I was a comedian but laughter vanished from our home. Bitterness arrived then. The journey back was a long one. We’re still on it.
More than anything, my relationship with Jesus of Nazareth has kept me going. Reading his words and teachings I learned that we are never alone. That he alone is the giver of lasting joy. A few choices a day have kept the bitterness away. The choice to look to Christ and forgive as he does. The choice to celebrate grace. The choice to rejoice.
One night after I spoke somewhere, a young woman came to me and lifted her denim sleeve. Crisscrossing her wrist were scars, some of them fresh. “I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for the message God has given you,” she said. “Would you put it in a book? Please?” For her, laughter was a windshield wiper. It hadn’t stopped the rain, but it allowed her to keep going.
I can’t think of a time when more people need to be cheered up. Many who read this blog and listen to Laugh Again tell us they are encouraged, and we’re so grateful.
You can check out Laugh Like a Kid Again here. Our new devotional, 31 Days of Hope and Humour. I pray these will be life-giving companions on your journey to joy. And both of them are filled with short stories. As Henry VIII told his fifth wife Catherine, “I won’t be keeping you long.”
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