Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
The world laughs itself to hell. Jokes, cartoons, comedians, sitcoms, parties, drunkenness, and mood-altering chemicals are the rage. Laughter is used to cover inward emptiness and deceive others that all is well. But the loneliness after such frivolity is crushing.
Life is not amusing. Dying is a terrible prospect. Hell is not funny. A party or drunken folly cannot eliminate the painful reality of dysfunctional living, unfulfilled expectations, the certainty of death, and the possibility of eternal damnation. Men cannot do enough to forget their pain and trouble. When the laughter ends, the heart feels even heavier grief.
What laughter has sorrow underneath? What mirth ends in heaviness? This cannot be the laughter and mirth of the righteous, for their happiness flows from a heart that is filled with contentment, hope, joy, and peace. The proverb must be dealing with the laughter of the wicked, who are described in the preceding and following proverbs (Pr 14:12,14).
Consider a fool’s life. Solomon analyzed the best that life on earth can offer, and he summarized it all as vanity and vexation of spirit (Eccl 1:14). Life is too short; it never meets expectations; it is filled with trouble and sorrow; the soul is not content with any amount of anything; death is sweet compared to the judgment that follows (Ec 12:13-14).
No wonder the world invented amusement parks. Musing is considering and thinking. To amuse is to replace those sober activities with frivolity and nonsense. So they spend a fortune to engage in folly to find fulfillment, but they must go to sleep that night knowing that it was an expensive and ridiculous diversion that did not work at all. They are empty.
No matter what unbelievers say, they are unhappy. It is easy to tell. The ones with the best circumstances, the ones the world admires the most, have the greatest misery. Consider Hollywood’s so-called stars. Their sorry lives of divorce, suicide, drunkenness, drugs, and other symptoms of dysfunction tell the truth. They are empty, miserable, and searching. The Bible calls them “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1:13).
When your heart is sorrowful for conviction, self-examination, or loss, turning to laughter is not the solution, for outward cackling or chuckling does no good for such a soul. In fact, Solomon said that singing songs to a man with a heavy heart is an act of cruelty (Pr 25:20). A convicted or troubled heart should find its comfort in God, not foolish laughter, for such false and pretended mirth will result in even greater sadness and disappointment.
The author of “Amazing Grace” also wrote, “Fading is the worldling’s pleasure, all his boasted pomp and show; solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know.” Reader, do you know the truth of his words? Seek the God of heaven this day. Those who have tried both ways of living swear by the righteous life (Ps 73:25-26; Eccl 12:13-14).