Today I visited my new hospice patient. He’s 94 years old. His frame tells of a once fit physique. Aging has robbed him of strength, but his spirit testifies age has no power over spirit.
During our time together, he kept things light. Never did he emitted a whimper of despair nor take anything about himself seriously. He is the model person described in Laughter Was God’s Idea: Stories About Healing Humor by Chaplain Jack Hinson.
The objectives of the book are:
Humor is a good medicine.
Humor is God’s gift to us to navigate life with joy.
We must be taken with the word “joy”. For joy according to Hinson grants us peace, openness to others, and it allows us to bond with others. It does not have the usual meaning of ‘
“a state of laughter and fun”.
In one of the early chapters, Hinson writes, “Taking oneself seriously leads us to believe that we are responsibility for our personal well-being and our future.” He continues,”Only when we accept of our human frailty, can we naturally accept God’s grace.”
His obvious corollary is, “Don’t take yourself seriously. For it builds a wall around you that keeps you from the joy that awaits you.”
Hinson writes that these views were his takeaways from four Conrad Hyers lectures. They changed my perception on the healing power of humor, joy and laugher.
Having embraced at these beliefs, Hinson realized that a hospital deserves a joyful chaplain. His daily prayer became, “God, if you will furnish the joy, I will spread it all over the hospital …”
My new hospice client is another example of a person who believes and adopted this “joy” to navigate life.
Hinson’s book contains many experiences and profession wisdom gained from his life as a chaplain. These two arrested me:
- Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastics 9:7-10.
Thus is another way to say life is a one-time gift, let nothing (particularly seriousness) keep you from the joy God has already approved for you.
- Love thy neighbor as thyself. Phil 1:3-4.
Chaplain Jack interprets this to mean: Do something for your neighbor that you would do for yourself, for your neighbor is just like you.
To support his joy/humor in healing theory, Hinson laces his book with scientific studies from the halls of research, from sayings by famous historical figures and from recognized medical stalwarts. They make interesting readings. For me, the tone of his stories convinced me. For conviction is hard to sell when there is no belief.
Jack Hinson is a husband, father, pastor, writer and chaplain of various hospital chaplaincy committee. Further, he served as interim pastor in a number of international locations and delivered numerous addresses on Humor in Healing.