I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy. (Jeremiah 31:13)
One of our readers pointed out that Stan Laurel, of the famous comedy team Laurel and Hardy, used to always say, “If any of you cry at my funeral, I’ll never speak to you again.”
And, in fact, at Stan Laurel’s funeral, Dick Van Dyke read the following eulogy:
God, bless all clowns.
Give them a long good life.
Make bright their way…
Their race apart
Turn their hearts’ pain
Into a dazzling jest to lift the hearts
God bless all clowns.
Turning pain into “a dazzling jest to lift the hearts” is a neat little trick, but it’s not at all outside the will of God. Jeremiah the prophet spoke of how turning “mourning into laughter” was part of God’s plan for His people, even His new covenant people.
In other words, someone like Robin Williams was turning his mourning into laughter all the time. It was the only way he could cope.
It’s important to note that “mourning” is part of a believer’s reality. This is not something that faith is supposed to cure. Nor is laughter in the middle of pain some sort of false denial or escape. It’s really part of the hope that God is going to somehow make sense of this human debacle we call life.
Life itself is a conundrum. We are born into death. There may be 70 or so years of “life” in there somewhere, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are born into death. And so faith and hope in the midst of that death is a sort of comedy that we all experience, and some, like Robin, can capture that incongruity especially well. But they do it for all of us, and, as one of our other readers pointed out, they do it amidst their own pain.
“Very sad,” she wrote. “Really no words to describe losing someone who makes you laugh without even hardly blinking an eye. I think God holds a special place in his heart for those who cannot hold their grip here on earth.
“People who have not experienced it truly do not understand that no matter how much someone lifts you up, tells you how great you are, what good you’re doing, there is a trigger inside that shoots it down every time. Impossible to explain. And those folks work the hardest to make sure you don’t know it, and aren’t brought ‘down’ by their true feelings.”
And we now know that Robin Williams was one of these people who barely had a grip all the time. His humor got him through 63 years, and, much to our enrichment, he shared it with all of us, and through the magic of media, it will continue to play on and on, helping us to laugh in the midst of our mourning.
And for all who believe, that laughter will one day turn into Joy, eternal. So we might as well start laughing now. It’s what Robin would want.
God bless all clowns.