The song “Laughing With” is haunting me in a good way. When I searched for the lyrics yesterday, one of the first sites that came up was one of those song meaning sites. I read through some of the comments. Some were debating if the song was really about God or if it was a jab at atheists or a jab at a certain style of believer. Even the religion of the singer was discussed. Some comments went deeper in wondering about how and when their own attitude of God changes.
These levels need to be examined, but I left a somewhat different, and hopefully a much deeper comment:
I think the key [to understanding the song] is the title and its last line. Why would God laugh?
Figure that out and you will know why we are laughing with God.
I should have added, “…despite all that is referenced in the song.”
“Figure that out” may be a poor choice of words because it is not a problem to solve. It is a question and a mystery to live with, to grow deeper in understanding.
Obviously, God would not laugh at anyone, especially at the people who laugh at Him like those in the chorus. And God would not be laughing at or about the other situations concerning war, illness, poverty, etc. I can see a skeptic with a twisted image of a revengeful god laughing smugly at people when they prayed to Him in need, “Ha ha, now you call me! I knew you would.” This god is too small. It is not the image of Jesus.
Why God would laugh? The only insight I have to this question is joy. That’s all I got, and yet it seems to be more than enough. God would laugh because of joy.
And yet, the strength and shock of the song in my opinion is that joy is never mentioned or implied in the lyrics. (Laughing at cocktail jokes or put-downs is not real joy.) The contrast is so striking that it is paradoxical. This leads to another question with no earthly answer. Where is joy in all those desolate situations described in the song? It must be there. The song ends in a note of joy, “We’re all laughing with God”.
(For further thought, every saint recognized or sensed joy in all situations. That does not mean they were happy in times of desolation, but they never lost a sense of underlying joy in God’s presence. This must be true of every saint, or else they would not be a saint. This is often easier seen in the stories of martyrs.)
I have an answer, but to a skeptic it might appear as circular reasoning. What, or rather who, is the source of all joy? It is God. This now puts a heavy emphasis on the preposition with. (See previous parenthetical paragraph.)
Maybe that is another way to say what separates hell from heaven—those who choose to laugh with God and those who won’t?