101: Just Laugh

101: Just Laugh

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Just Laugh

By Tracy Crump

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

~Job 8:21

“I like being around people who know how to laugh,” my mother-in-law exclaimed on a family outing for her eighty-fifth birthday. “If you can’t laugh, you might as well be dead.” Fairsee’s laughter filled the air that afternoon as she walked the grounds of a Civil War park, keeping up with her twenty-something grandson.

Many people would say Fairsee had little to laugh about. My husband, Stan, was just an infant when Fairsee’s life spiraled out of control. First, her adoring father died suddenly. On the day of her father’s funeral, Fairsee’s husband became so ill with tonsillitis that he could not attend the service and required surgery shortly thereafter. He never awoke from anesthesia, succumbing to an undiagnosed brain tumor. Reeling from shock, the young widow clung to the promise of new life that grew within her — she was pregnant with their second child. But a few weeks later, joy again turned to sorrow when she went into premature labor. The baby died twenty-four hours after birth. Within a three-month span, Fairsee buried a parent, a spouse, and a child — the three most devastating losses anyone could experience.

Fairsee did not have the luxury of lingering in grief, however. She still had a baby to care for. At a time when most women stayed home with their children, she was forced to return to work as a hair-dresser to provide for them both. Money was tight, so she gave up her car and walked to work. Never to own a home as she had always dreamed, she and Stan moved into less and less expensive rental housing and did without many things others considered necessities.

Faced with so many losses, Fairsee could have chosen to be sad and bitter, but she focused instead on God’s blessings. “I have a healthy baby. My job supplies enough food and a place to live. God doesn’t want me to be a ‘gloomy Gus.’ He gave me the gift of laughter, and I’m going to use it.” She commenced every day with prayer, faced each trial as it came, and left the rest up to God. Instead of crying, she chose to laugh.

Through the years, Fairsee has continued to delight her family with laughter. My sons still remember the time their Gran stepped out onto the front porch to tell us goodbye and began laughing so hard over a joke that she lost her balance. We watched, frozen in horror, as she somersaulted over a three-foot hedge and landed unhurt on the ground below — still laughing.

Tragedies come to us all. Often, our attitudes make the difference in whether we flounder in despair or reach for the joy of the Lord. Sometimes, the best thing to do is what Fairsee did — just laugh.

More stories from our partners