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Does God have a sense of humor? Print E-mail
Editorial
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

One New Year’s resolution often heard is: “I will cultivate a sense of humor.” Maybe we say this because we feel we’re too serious much of the time.

We’ve definitely got good reasons to be serious in our world today. However, I like this resolution. Personally, I think I often take myself too seriously.

My husband, on the other hand, has a great sense of humor. One of our granddaughters said one day to me, “Grandpa is funny!” She doesn’t say that to me!

God has a sense of humor

But what about the faith aspects of humor. Does God have a sense of humor?

I did a search on the Internet and found quite a bit about this topic. And yes, according to what I found, God indeed does have a sense of humor.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to us. The Bible is full of humorous passages. As JoHannah Reardon points out in her blog (www.christianitytoday.com), “How can we his creatures think things are funny unless the whole idea came from God in the first place? I've never heard a sermon about God’s sense of humor. Nor have I read a theology book that lists God’s laughter as one of his immutable characteristics. But I think it is. And unless we see that side of God, I’m not sure we'll totally appreciate him.”

She goes on to say, “Think about his creation. Surely he made creatures such as the otter, dolphin, and penguin, just because they delighted him so much. Or consider what we find in Scripture itself (keeping in mind that Scripture was inspired by God). Job 39:13-18 (a very serious book) describes the life of a stork in pretty funny terms. Verse 17 says, ‘For God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.’”

Reardon also notes that Proverbs is a funny book at times. She explains, “If you read it aloud to a group, it’s difficult not to laugh. Proverbs 11:22 says, ‘Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.’ Doesn't that give you delight on the days you feel more piggish than beautiful? You wonder if Solomon had just fought with one of his many wives when he said, ‘Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife’ (21:9).”

We see that God’s sense of humor is mostly gentle, not cruel. As Reardon points out, “Such a God inspired the author of Proverbs to write, ‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful’ (15:13), or seen from the opposite point of view in verse 30, ‘A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.’ Proverbs 16:24 says, ‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’”

Popes with a sense of humor

Pope Francis has often talked about the importance of having a sense of humor. At the end of a Lenten retreat in 2014, Pope Francis said he and his closest collaborators at the Vatican “want to follow Jesus more closely, without losing hope in his promises and without losing a sense of humor.”

The Vatican has had its share of challenges, so I’m sure there are days when Pope Francis himself finds it difficult to maintain a sense of humor. Yet, he always seems to have a ready smile in his public appearances.

His predecessors also had a sense of humor. Cardinal Timothy Dolan once related that when he was archbishop of Milwaukee, he met with Pope John Paul II (now a saint) and shared some good news with him. “Your Holiness,” said Cardinal Dolan, “the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is growing!” John Paul looked him over and said, “So is the archbishop!”

In an interview given during his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI shared this reflection: “I believe [God] has a great sense of humor. Sometimes he gives you something like a nudge and says, ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously!’

“Humor is in fact an essential element in the mirth of creation. We can see how, in many matters in our lives, God wants to prod us into taking things a bit more lightly, to see the funny side of it, to get down off our pedestal and not forget our sense of fun,” said Pope Benedict.

So I am going to make developing my sense of humor a New Year’s resolution, and I encourage other people to do the same. At the very least, I’ll try to smile more often — mostly at myself trying to be funny!

 
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