Tessa Thompson is one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met. If you suffer or minister to sufferers, you will benefit hugely from her book, Laughing at the Days to Come: Facing Present Trials and Future Uncertainties with Gospel Hope. I want to present three pieces of evidence to persuade you that purchasing and reading this book will be well worth your time and money.
First, watch this video to get a brief glimpse into her unique courage, gracious wisdom, and inspiring story.
Second, here’s my endorsement:
“In a world addicted to cheap laughs that demean God and mock sufferers, here’s a unique book on Christian laughter that glorifies God and lifts up sufferers. A book on laughter that will make you cry tears of sympathy, tears of joy, and tears of worship. A remarkable book by a remarkable woman with a remarkable God.”
Third, here’s a brief Q&A.
Why did you write the book?
While I was gradually losing my hearing in my teens, the godly woman in Proverbs 31 who “laughs at the time to come” (v. 25) was a great encouragement to me. I was crying when I thought of the days to come, and she had a laughter I greatly needed. One night, the title Laughing at the Days to Come came to mind, and I wrote it in my journal, thinking I would love to write a book on the theme one day. That was more than fifteen years ago, but I never lost my desire to write about that fascinating and fear-defeating laughter.
My 20s were a decade of both loss and disappointment, as I lost my hearing completely and God did not see it fit to answer hundreds of fervent prayers for healing. I wanted to be a woman who laughed at the days to come; the problem was, nearly the only thing I could envision for the days to come was being healed. I became absolutely certain God was going to do it. Instead, He took me gently by the hand and graciously corrected my flawed theology. Coming to understand the fatherly sovereignty of God and the nature of our “now but not yet” salvation was life-changing, and I greatly desired to put into words how those truths can help us cultivate a life of laughter.
Who will this book benefit and why?
I hope this book will benefit not only those who are walking through some form of present suffering, but also those who look to the future and wonder what trials might be up ahead. I think it’s safe to say that would be most of us. The reality of suffering in a fallen world is not news to Christians – we know it’s inevitable, and most would even readily admit that it is quite good for us. It drives us to Christ, it sanctifies us, and it gives us greater longing for heaven. What we don’t like is not knowing what’s coming. In present suffering, we wonder, How bad is this going to get? In days of blessing, we are tempted to anxiously question, What tragedy is waiting for me just around the corner? It is my hope that the truths and applications in the book will not only comfort and help those in present trials, but also equip those who are tempted to worry about future trials. If we can increasingly know, believe, and act upon these truths now, we will be much less likely to crumble when the trials of tomorrow come, whether big or small.
On another note, I would love for this book to get into the hands of those who have walked through the disappointment of unanswered prayer—for physical healing, a restored marriage, an open womb—and have been left confused or hardened. Of course, this book is not an exhaustive study on prayer, God’s sovereignty, or suffering; but I hope that sharing my personal story will create some common ground, and then point those readers in the right direction toward a sounder understanding of God’s word and His ways.
In suffering, how do we get beyond merely coping and accepting, to laughing?
Both believers and unbelievers walk through suffering. We all live in the same world of cancer, car problems, and relational conflict. And because no one naturally enjoys pain, loss, and suffering, the world offers plenty of strategies for how to cope in the midst of life’s discomfort, whether that be a debilitating disease or the daily, mundane difficulty of raising a toddler. Unbelievers can learn to cope with and accept their troubles well enough, because coping and accepting depend primarily on self-awareness—acknowledging my sorrow, regulating my emotions, controlling my responses, etc. How is the reality of my suffering affecting me and what can I do about it?
A life of laughter, rather, starts with a God-awareness—Who is God, what has He done, and what has He promised? How does that affect my response to the reality of suffering? Those who know and believe these truths are able to laugh at the days to come because they know these truths are fixed and unchanging. They are not laughing because they expect their circumstances to change for the better (or to never change for the worse), but they are laughing because God and His gospel do not change.
For some believers, the suffering seems to go on without end as they endure one painful circumstance after another. But even a life of ongoing, increasingly painful suffering can be a life of laughter, because when it comes down to it, this godly laughter has eternity stamped upon its eyeballs. We do not merely believe that God our Father will get us through it—we believe that He will get us home. The reality of God does not change the fact that we live in a fallen world and many tears will be shed. But the reality of God does promise us that one day, all those tears will be wiped away and our suffering will be no more.