Pause for Thought: Pleasure and pain

STUDENTS in a local university, members of the Christian Union, were the first to answer my questions.

‘What makes you laugh and what makes you cry?’.

Mark said it was most likely a funny film that would amuse him.

One in particular – ‘The Hangover’ – came to mind. On the other hand, the sight and sound of a new-born baby would bring tears to his eyes.

Adrian also mentioned movies, ‘Shrek’ being his example of best entertainment.

“My girlfriend, too. Oh, and board games.” Onions did the opposite, and sports injuries, his pastimes being volleyball and basketball.

It was feeling lonely that upset Sophie, but when friends were around, there was laughter.

Everyone experiences these strong emotions from time to time, some of us more frequently than others, no doubt, and perhaps one of them more powerfully.

‘The Preacher’ (Ecclesiastes 3, 4) knew that there is a time for expressing such pains and delights.

We learn that ‘Jesus wept’ when he stood at the grave of his fellow-countryman Lazarus, in company with the dead man’s sisters Martha and Mary. Did he ever laugh, or was he always serious and straight-faced? I can’t imagine, when reading between the lines of his stories and teaching in the gospels, that he was without humour. If he never chuckled, he would not be fully human, would he?

The challenge of the apostle Paul in writing to the church in Rome in the first century is just as relevant to us today. ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep’ (Romans 12, 15).

It may in fact be easier to relate to the people around us in their sadness, since we all go through the trials and tragedies of life.

The joy and good fortune of another is not necessarily ours, but by joining in their pleasure, we will surely find our spirits raised.

It’s a two-way process If we need examples, then the Old Testament book of Proverbs (King Solomon again) has much to offer.

P.S. National Day of Prayer at Wembley Stadium this Saturday, with 70,000 participants expected. Exciting!