Solomon said that a good name is better than great riches. He said it’s better to go to a funeral than to go to a party. Now he says, Ecclesiastes 7:3, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by 07 funsadness of face the heart is made glad.” This verse brings to mind a poem that Robert Browning (I think?) wrote:

I walked a mile with Pleasure; she chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser for all she had to say

I walked a mile with Sorrow, and not a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me!

Life lessons are valuable and are most often learned through hardships rather than good times. Life lessons learned the hard way seem to stay longer, sink in deeper, and affect greater results. Therefore in living out our lives with lessons learned our hearts are indeed “made glad” because of the benefits of lessons learned. I remember that Solomon often speaks to his son in his writings. God, therefore, is speaking to us as His children. Butler brings into his discussion on this verse in Ecclesiastes the life of Joseph: “Though Joseph was only a teenager and the favorite of Jacob, he was not allowed to sit around the camp doing nothing; for Jacob put him to work tending the flock. Work is therapeutic. It helps build character much better than play. A person needs to learn to work when they are young. Industriousness is a mark of good character.” If you follow Joseph’s life you might see how lessons learned the hard way helped prepare him for the great successes God had planned for his life. He named his children names that reflected a happy heart.

A. W. Tozer said, “God cannot use a man until he has hurt him deeply.” Great men and great women are shaped by pain. There is a time for laughter, Solomon already taught us that and for many of us there isn’t enough of those times in our lives. I’m working on an Easter sermon which I’m going to name, “the last laugh.” I’ve truly enjoyed my research on the role of laughter in the bible and am somewhat excited about what I’m learning. Yet, I have to agree with David Jeremiah when he says, “Man’s highest purpose is not to be happy, but to know God. And we know God the best when we face things we can’t do without Him. …Troubles cause all of us to stop the routine and ask more serious questions about life. For that reason, sorrow is better than laughter.” But if the sorrow leads us to know God better and to love Him more, there is no greater reason to be happy. Abraham and Sarah had many trials before the birth of the promised heir. They named him Isaac which means laughter!