Monday, June 12, 2017

A Good Laugh

“A cheerful heart is good medicine….” Proverbs 17:22a

The other night we had some guests over and had such a good time laughing. It felt so liberating! Laughing has a way of washing away heavy burdens weighing me down. It was a positive sign that Ramadan seriousness was not getting the best of me.

Ramadan can be a time of spiritual oppression for those of us who are set apart full time to minister among Muslims. It can be a long stressful month! Some Christians won’t be able to identify with us in this area because they don’t know any Muslims personally. But we see up close what happens to our Muslim friends. They talk constantly about being tired or feeling irritable. They don’t normally take holidays or engage socially as much with each other. My Muslim friend was exhausted from moving into a new place. I asked her if people from her community helped her out. "No, it's Ramadan," she replied.  It is a serious time of introspection for them. Even their children feel the effects. Eating and sleeping patterns are disrupted. Sometimes their relationships with us are put on hold for the month. This week I visited a lovely Muslim friend whose close relative had died. She was grieving deeply and also fasting diligently. It was painful observing her suffering, like she was beating herself. All of these things can weigh us down as we observe their suffering. We can't do much about it so we pray for them. The more we pray for them the more oppressed or depressed we can become. Nobody ever told me that. We enter a spiritual battle when we spend time in prayer for Muslims especially during Ramadan. It is one thing to pray through the guide “30 days of Prayer For the Muslim World” when we don’t know anyone and the far away places sound exotic, but quite another matter to pray for our dear friends.

I have to consciously guard myself from getting spiritually oppressed during Ramadan. My heart becomes so burdened for my friends whom I love dearly. When they yawn and tell me, “I’m so tired!” I want to ask them, “What is it all for? Who is it all for - you or God?” I want them to know that their sins have already been atoned for by Jesus Christ on the cross. The punishment has been removed. Forgiveness has been granted. Their guilt has been lifted away. Just receive and enjoy the beautiful gift of grace. But apart from the revelation of the Holy Spirit, they won’t grasp it. The gift of God’s grace towards them is illusive.

When I get oppressed I just want to stop praying. It becomes too laborious and draining. That is, of course, Satan’s scheme. Prayer is a mighty weapon and Satan is afraid of our prayers. We can see the oppression Muslims come under during Ramadan but we, too, can come under an oppression observing their efforts to fast.

We not only have faith and the Word of God as our weapons in this spiritual battle. There is another unlikely weapon, if you can imagine it, which is for our survival during Ramadan seriousness...laughter.  Laughter is amazingly liberating. It is a de-stressor. So, enjoy a good laugh today. It will feel wonderfully refreshing. Don't let Satan steal away your joy in the Lord.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for carrying my burdens which are too heavy for me to bear. Bring Your cheer to my soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.