On August 3rd, the funniest man on social media, Tony Baker, lost his son, Cerain, in a fatal car crash along with two other beautiful souls, Jaiden Johnson, 20, and Natalee Moghaddam, 19. The news hit hard because I literally go to his page daily to laugh. I will literally step away from my desk and announce I am taking a laugh break and head on over to Tony Baker’s Instagram page. And always without fail, he delivers the much-needed laughter my soul so needed.
In the days following, he would crack jokes in the midst of his grieving. To some, I know this had to be disturbing as they thought how could he joke in a time like this? He would even ask, “Why am I like this?” And for those of you who want to know, I’ll tell you why. It’s because he is full of joy.
When you study joy in the scriptures, you’ll discover that joy is not what most people think joy is. Christians typically think of joy as a sheepish grin plastered on the face of someone having a good time. Others think joy is simply a response. But coming from someone who learned joy the hard way, I can tell you it’s much more than that.
You see, a few years ago, I was homeless. I’d moved to Sarasota Florida but unfortunately jobs were few and far between. As such I had to spend 57 days living in a shelter and out of a 5 x 5 storage unit. Because Sarasota is a tourist town, the only jobs available were in housekeeping. Thankfully, I secured two part time positions securing less than 20 hours a week on both. But still thankful for the minimum wage and tips. During that time, my days consisted of: Having to be out of the shelter every morning at 4:30 am. Waiting on 5:30 am bus to take me to my 5 X 5 storage unit so that I could get a change of clothes. Thereafter, I’d fix a sandwich and sleep a few more hours, in my storage until the library opened so I could catch yet another bus to put in more applications. Once I secured the housekeeping jobs, I’d clean rooms until about 1 pm and then catch the bus back to the library; only to have to wait until intake at the shelter which didn’t begin until 6 pm. Therefore, between 1 – 6pm I had to find something to do to stay busy while not appearing homeless in a tourist town where Blacks were definitely the minority.
As you can imagine, that was a very dark and depressing time which is why one day, God put it on my heart to be intentional about laughing. When that thought came to my heart, I was like, “Laugh?” But somehow I knew that was God. Immediately, I started being intentional about my laughter. During those down hours, I’d take a few bucks, go to a fast-food restaurant, order something, charge my phone and sit and watch @kevonstage, @jsonfredericks, and @mrantdavis until I’d laugh. At first, I laughed inwardly. But over time, I’d belt one out. I didn’t care who heard me because I knew this was something God told me to do. At the time I didn’t understand what God was doing but now I know God was giving me joy.
Proverbs 17:22 says, ‘A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.’ That laughter caused my heart to be merry and became my prescription for depression. Nehemiah 8:10 says, ‘…do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ That laughter became joy that gave me the strength to go through homelessness and that same joy is the reason Tony Baker is able to crack jokes and perform in the midst of his loss. It’s because the joy of the Lord is the medication he needs for grief and the strength he needs to go through his loss. God has anointed him with what he needs. He is anointed with the oil of joy for his mourning (Isa 61:3). His oil got me through and the oil I so needed, he has in abundance.
So the next time you’re depressed, grieving, or going through a difficult time, be intentional about your laughter. Take a laugh break at least once a day and see how your mood and life changes for the better.
Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, we ask that You’d heal and comfort Tony Baker and his family in their time of grief. We ask You to continue to pour Your oil of joy into his life, give him television and film opportunities, bless his relationships, and allow the loss of his son to change laws and lives. In Jesus’ name.
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