Laughing at the Days to Come
Imagine being a child on holidays. Camping in beautiful weather, visiting the beach every day, your parents ignoring their usual sugar limits. Then, imagine coming back home to find out you’ve got two extra weeks of holidays! You’d be laughing at the days to come!
For some children though, who perhaps live remotely or have had to stay at home over the holidays, you’re not so joy filled. Then there are us adults- when life happens, often laughing at the days to come is our least likely reaction. While my children celebrated an extra few weeks of holidays, I felt some dread about how I’d handle work with kids at home for another two weeks.
At the same time, one of my dearest friends has had her child in hospital for the last few weeks, and will be there for some time yet. Another friend, though enjoying holidays, felt the loneliness of another Christmas break away from her family overseas.
How then, despite the difficulties in life can we ‘laugh at the days to come’ (Proverbs 31:25)? What does that even mean?
In the midst of sorting care for the kids for the next few weeks and praying for my friends in their trials, I came across an article which I found incredibly encouraging and hope filled. The article is a book review which reminded me that growing in Christlikeness despite hardship is difficult and humbling. That we must resist the temptation to look inwards and remember that ‘our laughter is dependent on where we place our fears – not in the uncertainties of the future, but in the character of our trustworthy Lord.’ After reading the review I’m certainly going to purchase and read ‘Laughing at the Days to Come’ in the near future. I hope the following read encourages you as well.
Love & Peace,
Review: Laughing at the Days to Come
by Renee Zou (The Gospel Coalition)
The author of Laughing at the Days to Come, Tessa Thompson, is like us in many ways. She is an eager wife and mother who desires to faithfully grow in trusting and obeying the Lord. However, Tessa has also been dealt difficult cards in life that many of us have not. She suffers from chronic pain. She has been permanently deaf since her teens. And amidst these practical deficiencies she is learning how to parent two young boys.
This book is an outpouring of her feelings towards God’s decision to permit her long-term physical suffering; her frustrations over unanswered prayers for her hearing to return; and her wrestling with “the God who takes” (4). Her reflections spring from the Proverbs 31 woman, who is “clothed with strength and dignity” and “laughs at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25). Tessa meditates on what this woman looks like (Chapters 1 to 4); how being rooted in the gospel enables her to imitate her (Chapters 5 to 8); and the impact of the new news on her expression of faith, including her prayer and church life, and her outlook on the brevity of life here on Earth (Chapters 9 to 11).
I am grateful for this book, primarily because Tessa addresses questions I naturally ask when faced with hardships: Where is my Heavenly Father when I am plagued with trials? Will God be with me when life gets increasing worse, hard, or lonely? Does God’s silence towards my prayers suggest some sort of hostility? A key strength of Laughing at the Days to Come is Tessa’s rawness and realness in asking deep questions and sharing her hardships. She does not shy away from acknowledging her doubts or self-confessed naive assumptions about God.
Tessa’s desire to grow in Christlikeness amidst suffering is also humbling. My favourite chapter is on church participation. She shares the practical inconveniences of being deaf at church: needing the sermon typed out beforehand; not being able to hear her church family sing; being unable to welcome newcomers or teach children at church. Yet even so, she maintains a high view of church – it is a place we can each “worship to grow in grace, walk with the body of Christ, and work to steward our gifts” (141).
She concludes her reflections by saying that she must resist the temptation to constantly look inwards in self-pity towards her limitations, but instead humbly accept God’s providence in her life, and look for ways God has granted her to serve. What a humbling response that challenges my own selfish perceptions of church! These convictions, of which there are many peppered throughout the book, are a testimony to the transformative work of the gospel, offering much encouragement to the reader.
What a humbling response that challenges my own selfish perceptions of church!
A reviewer on the back-cover aptly describes the reading experience as though Tessa was “sitting across from you with a cup of coffee”. This conversational and relational style proved helpful in giving me a peek into Tessa’s life, enabling me to feel as well as hear her pain, reflections, and convictions from the Bible.
I appreciated the honesty that Tessa brings to her readers. Living life deaf is an unimaginable hardship, and I am grateful she has chosen to share her story with us. Tessa also concludes by offering her readers an encouraging truth: regardless of our circumstances, we can laugh at the days to come.
Our laughter is dependent on where we place our fears – not in the uncertainties of the future, but in the character of our trustworthy Lord. Yes, he gives and takes away (Job 1:21), but he is also the Father of Mercies (2 Cor 1:3-4), disciplining those he loves (Heb 12:5-6), and preserving both them and their inheritance until he calls them heavenward (1 Pet 1:3-5). Will we direct our fears and anxieties to him?