Good Medicine

  • Pete Johnson
Peppers spelling out Hot

The world in which we live is a sad one. Laughter and joy have been replaced with anger and fear. The culture seems to say “How dare you laugh and enjoy yourselves!” As Christians, we can and should have joy and happiness, even in heated times. James, in his letter to persecuted believers, wrote,

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

And speaking of joy and laughter, that reminds me of an event that happen to me a couple of years back. During a Bible conference, I went out to dinner with several friends. We decided to dine at a Mexican restaurant (not in Anchorage, but Santa Clarita, California) where I ordered two tacos. When the tacos arrived, they each had a small roasted pepper sitting on top. Stirred on by my peers perhaps, I decided to take a bite from one (I’m not a pepper guy at all!). Anxious regarding what I was about to do, I took a smell of it. I was somewhat taken back because it even smelled like it was hot! Goaded on by my friends, I took a small bite, perhaps only a nibble. For a brief moment I thought maybe that it was just a garnish, just to make the taco look nice, but I quickly realized that it was not.

Suddenly it began. My entire mouth, my nostrils, my lips, my throat, my teeth, my toes, fingers, and even my eyes felt as though they would melt. My face must have shown my shock and distress for the table roared with laughter as they watched my apocalyptic reaction to that pepper. I was laughing too, even as I started hiccuping and coughing and crying, we were all laughing. Even the restaurant workers were laughing!

After about 10 minutes or so the effects of the fire pepper of death had worn off and I actually felt better than before I had even eaten it. I felt relaxed, de-stressed, and clear-minded. Was this some sort of medicinal discovery I had made? Perhaps I should take another bite! Nah!

Actually, it had nothing to do with the pepper of death, it was, of course, the laughter that I and my friends had shared over that moment, one that I’m sure we will laugh at again sometime.

The Mayo Clinic reports that laughter does several positive things for you short and long term alike:

  • Stimulates many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activates and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothes tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
  • Improves your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieves pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
  • Increases personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improves your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. (

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” As Christians, we have a lot to be happy about! So don’t be a spirit crusher, be good medicine!