As we begin a new year with upcoming national elections, epidemic concerns, violence in the streets and uncertainty for our nation’s direction, how might we retain some sense of historical perspective that, with faith in God’s providence, can provide some hope for a favorable future?

I believe God has given us a sense of humor, not only for our survival, but for our sanity.

In October 1973, in the midst of the Watergate crisis, the Cincinnati Reds were playing the New York Mets in the World Series. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, sitting through interminable oral arguments on the Court, sent a law clerk out to bring him the latest news. The clerk returned with a note that read: “Kranepool flies out. Agnew resigns.”

A sense of history reminds us that the severe realities of life can be punctuated with a serendipitous mirth, which I believe can keep us sane in difficult circumstances.

By making room in the margins of our lives for a smile, a chuckle and even laughter, can’t we celebrate and join in God’s sense of humor?

Many have been saying that our nation, for quite some time, has been in the midst of the worst political and social divisions in our lifetimes. Whether that is true or not, and whether things will get worse before they get better, I have to believe that in times of crisis, the opportunity arises more clearly to recognize what is essential to our identity as Americans and people of faith, and what isn’t.

As he was prepared for operation on a bullet wound after an assassination attempt in March 1981, President Reagan said to the doctors and nurses, “I hope you’re Republicans.” To which the chief surgeon replied, “Today Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.”

Humor is a gift from God, to make our existence not only bearable, but joyous and fun — for ourselves and those within the sound of our laughter. Finding humor, especially in difficult and stressful situations, should make us grateful to the Creator who graciously included comedy on the stages of our lives.

Humor is most helpful in the face of sorrow. As a means of survival and a gift of love, God gave us comedy to complement the tragedies of this world that is our stage.

Humor can open our hearts and minds to God’s mercy. Laughter is therapeutic, and a comical approach to life can offset the sometimes harsh severity of our circumstances. Faith in a God we cannot see requires a cessation of that part of us that only responds to the material world we can see, which is starkly unforgiving in its sense of self-serving realism.

It’s obvious that God has a sense of humor. Do we?

For the sake of ourselves and those we encounter in the course of our daily lives, may God awaken our sense of humor, as a courageous declaration that this world will never defeat us, and that love — the outcome of every comedy — will prevail.

The Rev. Dr. John R. Jacobs is senior pastor at The Village Chapel in Pinehurst.

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(2) comments

Constance Lovell

Thanks for reminding us to lighten up and add a dash of humility to our righteous indignation.

Kent Misegades

Conservatives indeed have humor, and they are capable of admitting mistakes. Liberals never err and have no sense of humor, except for Schadenfreude - gaining pleasure from others’ misery. They can’t even laugh over how the popular phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” started - when a media gal spun the words of a NASCAR crowd and was caught in the act of spinning reality. That has to be one of the funniest events of 2021!

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