He Who Laughs Last

Traced back to a play in the early 1600s, it still rings true: “He who laughs last, laughs best. 

The distraught father named Jairus hurriedly left his home. He was looking for this Man named Jesus. People said Jesus could perform miracles, and Jairus needed one. 

He found Jesus and quickly explained that his 12-year-old daughter was dying. They had tried everything they knew to do, but she kept inching closer and closer to death’s door. Jesus readily agreed to go with Jairus to his home. 

Along the way, Jesus was interrupted by another woman in desperate need, and He stopped to heal her. As Jairus was (im)patiently waiting for Jesus to continue on the journey, one of his servants ran up to Jairus with the sad news, “Your daughter is dead.” 

Jesus looked at this heartbroken father and simply said, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe, and your daughter will be well.” 

Jairus took Jesus at His word and continued walking with Jesus to his home. 

While Jairus was gone, family members and friends had shown up to mourn the death of this sweet girl. They were wailing loudly, but the clear voice of Jesus could be heard even over their woeful cries: “Stop crying. She is not dead, only asleep.” 

There was a pause, and then there was a totally unexpected and out-of-place response: laughter. 

Not joy-filled laughter, but mocking, derisive laughter at the utter foolishness of the words of Jesus. 

“What do you mean, ‘She isn’t dead’” they yelled. “We’ve been in her room. We’ve seen the cold, lifeless body! She is absolutely, undeniably dead!” And they continued to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of what Jesus had pronounced. Many of the laughs probably turned to jeers as they began to mock His foolish, insensitive statement. The historian Luke wrote, “They knew the girl was dead.” 

Jesus took the grieving yet believing parents into the girl’s room, He took her lifeless hand in His hand, and simply said, “Little girl, get up.” 

And she did. Fully alive! 

Let me ask you something: Who was laughing now?! 

I’m sure the uncontainable joy of these parents burst out into laughter. And I think Jesus shared in the joyful laughter as well. 

“He who laughs last, laughs best.” 

Friend, what do you “know” right now? What’s gone wrong that cannot be fixed? What terminal diagnosis have the doctors given? What is approaching death’s door? What has already died? 

Listen again to the words of Jesus: “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” 

Jesus gets the final word. Jesus gets the final laugh. Jesus will make all things new! 

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove His people’s disgrace from all the earth. (Isaiah 25:8) 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4-5) 

Don’t be afraid. Just believe. 

Jesus has secured the last—and best—laugh for both you and Himself! A laughter that will reverberate through all of eternity! 

Poetry Saturday—World Of Wonders

John BunyanO world of wonders (I can say no less),
That I should be preserved in that distress
That I have met with here! O blessed be
That hand that from it hath delivered me!
Dangers in darkness, devils, hell, and sin.
Did compass me, while I this vale was in;
Yea, snares, and pits, and traps, and nets did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I
Might have been catched, entangled, and cast down:
But since I live, let JESUS wear the crown. —John Bunyan’s Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, after he came through the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

 

Overcoming The Biggest Fears

Death is defeatedDid you know among Americans the fear of death is only #2 on the list? Yep, 68% of people list this as their top fear. What could be more fearful than death?! Believe it or not, the #1 fear—listed by 74% of people—is public speaking! (Followed in a distant third place by the fear of spiders by only 30% of people).

Why would people fear speaking more than death? Maybe because they don’t think they have anything to say.

But if you almost died, or had a near-death experience, or even temporarily crossed over to the other side, don’t you think you’d have a story to tell? And don’t you think lots of people would want to hear your story? And wouldn’t you want to tell it to as many people as you could?

In other words, if you could stare down death and come back from the brink, you would not only overcome your fear of death, but your fear of public speaking too!

In John 11 there is the story of a man who not only had a near-death experience, but he actually died. In fact, he was dead for over four days! Lazarus was a part of a family that loved Jesus, and the Bible says that Jesus loved them dearly too.

Prior to this account of Lazarus’ death, there is no mention in Scripture of him speaking at all. He was clearly one who suffered from the fear of public speaking, and quite possibly the fear of death too. But after Jesus raised him from the dead, the Bible says large crowds came to Lazarus’ hometown of Bethany to hear his amazing back-from-the-dead story. And not only that, they began to put their faith in Jesus because of his story! (see John 12:9-11).

We have a back-from-the-dead story to tell too. All of us have sinned against God (Romans 3:23), and because of that we are under a death sentence for our sins (Romans 6:23). But when we put our faith in what Jesus did on the Cross for us, and we ask God to forgive us of our sins, we have been brought back to life!

We have looked death square in the eyes and laughed!

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Now our darkest valleys—even our valleys of death—have no fear for us. The Lord is our Shepherd … His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives AND we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Not only should you not fear death, you shouldn’t fear public speaking. If you have been forgiven of your sins, you have a back-from-the-dead story to tell.

People need to hear your story! Why? Because they’re scared of death! So tell them about the love of a Savior that rescued you from death.

I invite you to join me next Sunday as we continue to celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over death!

Is Today Your Last Day With Us?

Okay, this seems a bit bizarre: God tells Moses, “Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them with you up to Mount Hor. I want you to transfer the office of high priest from Aaron to Eleazer. And then Aaron is going to die on the mountain.”

Seriously!

Anyone reading this post knows their birth date, but none of us knows his or her death date.

Aaron did.

What do you think he did with his last few hours?

  • Did he need to apologize to someone? Ask their forgiveness?
  • Did he need to make amends?
  • Pass along some vital information to Eleazer?
  • Say “I love you” to someone dear to him?
  • Give one last kiss? One last embrace?

James wrote, “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” (James 4:14).

You and I don’t know what our death date will be, so our best bet is to live today like it’s our last day. What do you need to do with your last few hours?

  • Are you ready to meet God?
  • Do you need to ask Christ to forgive your sins?
  • Is there someone who needs your forgiveness?
  • Do you need to make something right somewhere?
  • Is there vital information you need to share?
  • Does someone need to hear “I love you”?
  • Who do you need to hug or kiss?

Don’t wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow may never arrive. Live today like it’s your last day. Because it may very well be your last day with us.

Homemade = Heartmade

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “I love you”?

My favorite Father’s Day gifts are the homemade, personalized cards that my children make for me. Throughout the years I’ve kept a number of those close to me as bookmarkers or framed reminders on my desk. To me homemade = heartmade.

Yesterday one of my children gave me a card which had this heart-tugging line: “I love you so very because you love me.” And then there was this P.S.: “Don’t stop loving.”

On Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or birthdays, it seems easy to express our love. After a hospital stay or a near-death experience, it seems required to express our love. And that’s as it should be. But what about all the “normal” days in between?

I believe one of the greatest gifts I can give my family is a personalized, “heartmade” gift that tells the recipient that I’m thinking about them. In other words, I need to be actively and deliberately finding ways to express my heartmade love to those close to me every day.

Of the 86,400 seconds I have today, it will only take me a few seconds to:

  • Text “I love you”
  • Give a gentle squeeze or love pat as they walk by
  • Jot a quick note to pack in someone’s lunch
  • Buy their favorite candy as I’m checking out of the store
  • Stick a friendly Post-It note message to their bathroom mirror
  • Start or end their day with a hug

As Gertrude Stein wrote, “Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.”

Don’t make those close to you GUESS you love them, make sure they KNOW you love them. It only takes a second or two.

How will you use your 86,400 seconds today?

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