Pastor Craig Carter
I don’t know how you view God, but according to Scripture, the Divine Being is not stoic or passionless. Instead, the Bible portrays the Lord in a personal manner as One who has thoughts, feelings and emotions. And apparently, at least according to the psalmist, He has a sense of humor.
So what makes God laugh? Here are three things the Bible tells us:
God laughs when…
– We make our own plans
– The forces of sin and evil think they are winning
– The Enemy attacks His people
First, let’s explore why God laughs when we make our own plans.
Listen to what the psalmist says: “Why are the people making useless plans? But the one who sits in heaven laughs…” (Psalm 2:1b,4a NCV)
It’s worth noting that “useless plans” refer to schemes that are contrary and even opposed to God’s will (Psalm 2:1-3). Notice also why God laughs at many of man’s plans: He does so from His vantage point in heaven. The Lord isn’t constantly pacing, wondering how things will turn out. No, He is seated comfortably on His throne. God is the exalted, sovereign ruler of the universe. He’s in charge and we’re not.
The biblical author, James, picks up on this notion in his New Testament letter: “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16 NLT)
Our “pretentious plans,” filled with presumptions and assumptions, make God laugh. If we want to make God smile (with pleasure) rather than laugh (at our ineptitude), we need to make sure our plans are His plans. And the psalmist gives us the formula: “Be smart and pay close attention. Serve and honor the Lord; be glad and tremble… He blesses and protects everyone who runs to him.” (Psalm 2:10-12 CEV)
It’s never fun to be a laughingstock, especially when God is the audience. So rather than telling Him our plans, we need to seek His plan for our lives.
Second, let’s look at why God laughs when the forces of sin and evil think they are winning.
The psalmist advises, “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong…but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.” (Psalm 37:1, 13 NIV)
Do you ever feel like evil is reigning supreme in our world? Or that sin is rampant? Sometimes we feel anxious about what is going on around us or have a sense of resignation that why even try to be good when it seems like bad people get ahead. In Psalm 37, the writer identifies those as common feelings and adds that sometimes we feel anger as it seems like the wicked and sinful are winning.
But God looks down from heaven and chuckles because they don’t know who they’re up against…and He also knows how the story is going to end.
To illustrate this, imagine if I challenged Tiger Woods in a winner-take-all match. My golf game has been pretty good lately, so maybe I could win. You’re laughing right now, aren’t you? It’s just as laughable to think that the forces of sin and evil will ever triumph over God’s goodness and holiness
After all, how could darkness ever triumph over light? It can’t. Wherever the light shines, darkness is vanquished. And one day, the One who is the Light of the World will take His rightful position on the throne and reign supremely over the heavens and the earth.
So rather than fret or be envious or angry with those who do all manner of evil, we can laugh as God does, knowing that any of their apparent victories are short-lived
And, in the meantime we can follow this counsel from the psalmist: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:5, 7, 9 NIV). And he continues, “Turn from evil and do good…” (Psalm 37:27a NLT)
That posture ensures that we are the ones laughing, not being laughed at.
Finally, let’s talk about why God laughs when the Enemy attacks His people.
In Psalm 59, David chronicles the verbal and physical assaults he is enduring. Yet, while he is prone to feelings of anger and distress, he knows the truth. “God, save me from my enemies. Protect me from those who attack me…But, Lord, you laugh at them; you make fun of all of them.” (Psalm 59:1, 8 NCV)
It’s important to note that God does not laugh at the misfortune of His people. Instead, the Lord scoffs at those who oppose His chosen ones who do His will. That means you and I can face opposition and resistance with confident hope. And it also means we can rest peacefully in the arms of a loving and compassionate God.
Clearly, all enemies that we face are agents of our ultimate Enemy – Satan. What is our normal reaction to Satan and his attacks? Fear.
But God’s reaction is that He laughs. How is that possible? Again, it’s all a matter of perspective. Somehow we’ve made the two adversaries in the struggle for control of this world equal, but they are far from it:
– God is all-powerful, but Satan’s power is limited (and very limited)
– God is the Eternal Creator, but the Devil is a temporary creature
– God is sovereign, but Satan is subordinate
So we don’t need to tremble in fear of Satan, we can fall to the floor in laughter. The audacity of the Devil to think he stands even a fighting chance is hilarious. God always wins!
There’s an old adage: He who laughs last, laughs best…or, laughs loudest (and longest)! Someone else has put it: He who laughs, lasts.
Do you remember the name of the Roman emperor who conducted a violent and bloody campaign to exterminate all Christians? He even had a coin minted and monuments built with the inscription: “The name of Christianity is being extinguished.” His name was Diocletian (bet you didn’t know that).
Diocletian left office in 305 AD and died about a decade later. Shortly after his death, under Constantine the Great, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and consequently spread throughout the known world. Who got the last laugh? The Eternal One that continues to rule and reign to this day, long after Diocletian is gone and forgotten.
So while the attacks of the Enemy are real and can cause genuine torment and pain, we can take consolation and even joy in knowing they are not the ultimate reality as God and His purposes will prevail.
Knowing that God laughs in the face of the Enemy’s attacks caused David to adopt this perspective that we’d do well to emulate: “God, my strength, I am looking to you…My God loves me, and he goes in front of me. He will help me defeat my enemies. You are my defender, my place of safety in times of trouble. God, my strength, I will sing praises to you. God, my defender, you are the God who loves me.” (Psalm 59:9-10, 16-17 NCV)
Discovering what makes God laugh is helpful, isn’t it? It enables us to maintain the proper mindset and allows us to order our behavior so as to ensure that we aren’t laughed at but rather can laugh with the Lord.
If, like me, you tend to make plans that are pretentious and laughable, seek God’s will instead. Or, if you’re facing sin and evil as we all do, don’t give in to it but trust and follow the Lord. And, if you feel like you’re under attack, put your hope in the Lord and seek shelter in His loving arms.