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Luke 6:21 – Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Job 38:4-7 –“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Laughter. How I love laughter! I can think of nothing more melodious to my ears that the sound of my grandchildren laughing! My heart takes wings when I hear it! To be unabashedly joyful is something that is hard for adults to do. Perhaps it is because we’ve seen too much, or done too much, that we have lost that ability. We’re the worse for it, of that I am sure.
While I don’t agree with his vision of the afterworld entirely, in The Divine Comedy, Dante depicts a gradual ascent from the pit through the purgatorio to the gates of heaven. Early on in the book, he’d proven himself to be a true master at the expression and description of his journey and the things he saw. But it is interesting, that as he finally approaches the full Presence of God, words and visual images begin to fail this master composer. So, he switches to another key entirely for the remainder of his epic. As he draws ever closer to the highest celestial sphere, he can only describe what he heard as a sound that he’d never heard before. Pausing, he listens. “Me sembiana un riso del unimverso,” he wrote. In English, it means that it sounded “like the laughter of the universe.”
Dr. Harvey Cox, telling this story of Dante in When Jesus Came to Harvard, wrote: “The whole universe laughing? The solar system, the Milky Way, the hundred billion galaxies that surround our earthly protons, all bent over in convulsions of hilarity? A laughter that somehow catches up an entire history of sobs and cries of pain? The last laugh of the God of life after so many deaths and defeats? Was it too much to hope for? Maybe so, but why hope for anything less?”
What will heaven be? No human eye that has ever seen it has found the way to describe it. Paul said that there wasn’t a language for it – that it would be even unlawful for us to try to describe it. John, in Revelation, used outlandish signs and symbols. What will heaven actually be like? I really don’t know. But, perhaps as much as it will be a place of unending worship of the Eternal God, it will be a place that will shake with laughter – laughter at the joy of family in the very best sense of the word, in the very best of times, knowing that the party will never end! And the new heavens and the new earth, confined to groaning in travail in the present creation, will be freed – and join in the laughter of all things being set right.
I long to hear the laughter of the universe set free. I long to hear the laughter of the redeemed when they take full possession of the Promised Land. I long to hear the laughter of the Lamb at the wedding feast. I long to see the Father’s face contorted with joy…over all of His children come home.
PRAYER: God, we long to hear the laughter of Your joy when the new heavens and earth have begun! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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