‘Humor is healing’: Laughter soothes nerves during COVID-19 trauma

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Americans are employing humor as a balm to soothe nerves during the coronavirus pandemic, flocking to new Instagram stars like Quentin Quarantino and sharing Facebook memes about taking off bras and pants and putting on weight in self-quarantine.

Late-night TV hosts and hometown comedians are providing a mental health safety net for Americans living amid COVID-19 trauma, and medical experts say humor is a vital part of surviving the cascading catastrophe.

“We’re just trying to find the lighter side of the crisis with articles that tell readers that this is temporary, ‘Let’s just get through it together,'” said Jonathan Jaffe, whose New Jersey-based satirical newsletter, The Jaffe Briefing, has had a 40 percent spike in readership since the first coronavirus patient died in the United States on Feb. 28.

Snarky but very positive, the daily bulletin updates readers on such news as Anheuser-Busch’s efforts to switch production from beer to antiseptics.

“NEWARK – The Sultan of Sanitizer? The Highness of Hand Hygiene? The Ayatollah of Antiseptic? Someone has to devise a new, snappy nickname now that The King of Beers is mass producing hand sanitizer.”

Mental health professionals say humor is a balm for soothing nerves, not just by tickling funny bones but also by decreasing stress hormones. Clinical evidence shows high levels of stress can weaken immune systems.

Jokes at a time of crisis, however, should be rooted in commonalities rather than in differences. If not, they risk the resounding criticism directed at comedian Ari Shaffir after he tweeted sarcastic humor about the January death of basketball great Kobe Bryant.


At an otherwise grim news conference to update on the state’s COVID-19 death toll and infection numbers, Kentucky officials this week showed photographs of sidewalks chalked with light-hearted sayings, and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack told reporters, “Humor is healing.”

Comedy can serve as mental armor to ensure safe passage through tragic times, says psychologist Sean Truman of St. Paul, Minnesota.

“It’s a really powerful way to manage the unmanageable. Just to make fun of it and to gain control by laughing at it. That’s a really powerful psychological move we can make,” Truman said.

With New York at the epicenter of the U.S. crisis, Governor Andrew Cuomo enlisted comic actor Danny DeVito to drive home the very serious message about self-quarantining.

“Stay home,” DeVito, 75, said in a widely aired public service announcement. “We got this virus, this pandemic, and you know young people can get it, and they can transmit it to old people, and the next thing you know – ‘Gghhhhkk, I’m outta there!'”

After production of their late-night television talk shows was shut down, comedians Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah are streaming their monologues online.

Millions watched as Fallon sat on his front porch and rewarded himself for landing jokes told only to his laptop computer by pressing a button that delivered canned laughter and applause.

A recent episode of “The Light Show with Stephen Colb-Air – We’re All In This Together,” recorded on Colbert’s front porch, featured a mock horse race.

One thoroughbred “Does This Cough Mean Anything?” vied for the lead with “Maybe This Will All Blow Over.” And the winner “by three lengths!” announced the breathless sportscaster, was “Generalized Anxiety.”

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Applause, laughter as wounded lawmaker Scalise returns to Congress

U.S. Rep Steve Scalise (R-LA) is applauded as he arrives in the House chamber after returning to Congress for the first time since being shot and seriously wounded in June. U.S. House TV/Handout via Reuters

By Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of the U.S. House of Representatives put bitter party divisions aside for a long standing ovation on Thursday as Representative Steve Scalise returned for the first time since he was shot and wounded in June.

Leaning on a cane but walking on his own, Scalise, 51, entered a packed House chamber to applause and loud cheers from his fellow members of Congress.

“You have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people’s House,” said Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, standing at a desk in the Republican section after he was greeted with hugs and high-fives from members of his own party and Democrats.

He thanked the Capitol police officers he credited with saving his life, world leaders who had contacted him and members of his medical team, who were sitting in the crowded visitors gallery overlooking the House floor.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s voice cracked as he introduced Scalise. “The chair wishes to mark the return of our dear friend and colleague from Louisiana, Mr. Steve Scalise,” Ryan said. “Our prayers have been answered.”

Scalise gave an emotional speech, interrupted by frequent applause, thanking his family and referring to innate optimism he partly attributed to being from Louisiana, referring to the attitude of “joie de vivre” (joy of life) in a state with a heavy French influence.

“When I come back into this chamber today, just seeing the faces of all of you, it just means more than you can imagine,” Scalise said.

Scalise was among Republican lawmakers attacked June 14 in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, by a gunman who opened fire on them while they were practicing for a charity baseball game against Democrats.

He underwent repeated surgeries before being released from the hospital in late July.

Scalise was shot in the hip by a gunman who had a history of posting angry messages against Republican President Donald Trump.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Baltimore Boy Gets World’s First Double Hand Transplant

An 8-year-old Baltimore boy who lost his hands and feet to infection when he was 2 will now know what it’s like to be able to pet a dog, throw a football or climb on the swing set at school.

Zion Harvey was given the world’s first double hand transplant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

A team of 40 doctors, nurses and reconstruction specalists were guided by Dr. L. Scott Levin, the chair of orthopedic surgery at Penn Medicine (the medical school for the University of Pennsylvania).

“We know what we have to do today,” Dr. L. Scott Levin told his troops before the 10-hour operation began. “I know everybody assembled here has a commitment to this patient and making this a reality for this little boy. We can have complications. We can fail. We can have trouble. But we’re not planning on it.”

Zion had already survived a kidney transplant and mastered using prosthetic legs.

“It was Zion’s decision,” thie boy’s mother Pattie Ray told the Baltimore Sun. “If he wanted them we were going to get them. If he didn’t we weren’t.”

Zion informed his mother that because he now had hands, he wants a puppy and wants to play football.

Morningside Celebrates Lori’s House Grand Opening!

The Grand Opening of Lori’s House was a celebration full of smiles and true thankfulness to God and all that have donated, worked thousands of hours, encouraged and prayed!  On July 4th, almost 4 years to the day of its dedication, Lori’s House opened it’s doors to saving lives!

“What better day to dedicate a home that encourages life and renewing!  It has been a long road to opening this wonderful place for young pregnant women to go and have their babies instead of aborting them,”  Pastor Jim Bakker commented. “Lori warned me that there would be warfare. And there truly was, but we made it and we will cut the ribbon today!  God is on our side!!”

Lori Bakker thanked the many people who have had a part in this miracle remembering the amazing people who have donated with such generosity and believe in this cause.  She thanked the many who have prayed daily for this ministry and the staff and volunteers that have worked non-stop. “Tammy Sue Bakker has held this vision all along and made sure it came to pass.  With the amazing help from our forewoman, Daina Martin and her incredible staff this beautiful home has been made possible!

Lori took a special moment to honor her mother, Char Graham.  “ You truly are the queen of my life.  Jesus is my King and my rock but my Mom has been my rock as well. Her prayers for me when I wasn’t living for God brought me through to Him and her prayers have not stopped.  There is a special place for you in heaven and I am so proud to have you as my mom! “

Lori’s house has been a ministry close to Lori’s heart.  “One of the great joys of my life is mentoring.  Moments where I can speak into another woman the love of God and the healing that can be found there. We are going to see amazing journeys.. not only are we saving babies and their brave young mothers,  but we will be witnessing post abortive women being healed through ‘Mourning to Joy!’  We will be training up true women of God!”

Before stepping up to cut the ribbon with Lori and their granddaughter Olivia, Pastor spoke to the crowd.  “God has His hands on this ministry.  We pray for all of you every day! We pray for our employees and the staff of Lori’s House.  We pray for our volunteers and for our supporters!  God has set you apart for a worldwide ministry that nobody else is doing and we stand together as one!” he declared.  “ Children are our heritage.  We dedicate Lori’s House to the Glory of God!”

“Brain Dead” Teen Girl, Revived Through Prayer, To Graduate High School

Doctors said the girl was brain dead and that her parents should take her off life support.

But God wasn’t done with Taylor Hale.

Hale was 14 when she fell off the hood of a car while hanging out with friends.  Her head hit the pavement and she was in a coma for six days.  Her brain sank part of the way into her spinal canal, a condition the doctors said was always fatal.

The doctors were wanting to harvest Taylor’s organs for transplants when Jeff Stickel came to the hospital.  Stickel, a family friend who felt God calling him to the hospital to pray for the girl, asked for permission from the parents.  The parents thought it was too late but allowed him to pray anyway.

Stickel laid hands on her neck and prayed for God to heal her.  The family thanked him and he left.

The doctors turned off the life support.

But Taylor kept breathing.

They reconnected the life support and as the day went on, Taylor’s brain activity increased.  Her eyes moved.  She made noises as if she was trying to talk.

Then she woke up from the coma.

“It was the hand of God at work,” her father, Chuck Hale said. “That’s the only thing that can explain it.”

Taylor needed years of therapy but can walk, talk and eat on her own.  She struggles with math but will graduate with her class and plans to go to college to study event planning.

“God can save people,” she said. “I’m always thankful to all the doctors and nurses and therapists who helped me get better, but God did most of the saving.”

Beauty for Ashes (Pt. 2)

I love the beauty for ashes verses in the Bible.  Isaiah 61 reads like my own personal memoirs from God:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me”…oh yes, it is!  He has given me His Spirit!

“Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor” …oh yes, He has!  I preach whenever I get a chance that God has a better life for you to live, God has a better plan and He will show you that you don’t have to be poor in spirit; you don’t have to grieve over past sin and past hurts your entire life.

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted” …oh yes, He has!  I love to tell people that God is not mad at them!  He does not hold sin against you when you are brokenhearted over it yourself!  He wants to heal your heart, and heal your spirit.  He wants you to come full-circle and back around to what He intended for your life from the start. Continue reading

American Ebola Victims Released From Hospital

The two American aid workers who had contracted the Ebola virus have been released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and declared to be virus free.

Dr. Kent Brantly was released Thursday and spoke at a press conference where it was revealed that Nancy Writebol had been released secretly on Tuesday.

In his statement to reporters, Dr. Brantly repeatedly stated the reason that he knows he is alive.

“God saved my life,” Dr. Brantly said.

He shared the moments he realized that something was wrong.

“On Wednesday, July 23, I woke up feeling under the weather and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with Ebola. As I lay in my bed in Liberia for nine days, getting sicker each day, I prayed God would help be more faithful in even in my illness, and that in my illness or even death he would glorified,” Brantly said.

Brantly ended his statement to the press by asking everyone to continue praying for the victims in West Africa and to contact our leaders to get them involved in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.

Hope and Expectancy

I know so many of God’s people who are weary. I don’t mean to sound down, because I’m not, but I have been – and you have been too. It’s not possible to live in this world at this time without feeling the effects of some of its pressures. Everywhere we look, everywhere we turn, there is evil all around us and it wears on us. And, if we don’t watch out, we can be overtaken by the sheer force of it.

Not only are we dealing with the effects of the world’s woes, but most of us are dealing with an unusual effort to bring us down in one way or another – be it finances, relationships, our health, our families, or any number of other life crises. Continue reading

Deep Wells Coming Forth!

I knew in the beginning of this year and I had an urgency in my spirit that I had to get my body prepared for the difficult days ahead.  I knew that the physical body had to get well and be strong to live through these final days to help others because this is the “Harvest Time.”

Heaven forbid that the “Harvest Time” becomes a cliché to God’s people.

God chose me, and He chose you to occupy this earth and to work the harvest fields in the very last days and hours before the end of this age. We are not here by happenstance. That’s a hard thing for most people to realize and completely comprehend – and what’s even harder is to grab a hold of the very thing God ordained for you to do before the foundations of the world in this season! Continue reading

Cindy Jacobs Says God Wants To Heal America

Last night on Grace Street, Cindy Jacobs brought a message of warning, hope and promise.

Cindy began with husband Mike speaking about America and the impact the nation has on the world.  How America has been a beacon of freedom because of our dedication to the Lord.

“The world needs America to be the America that America once was,” Mike said.

Cindy then took to the lectern to speak to share with the crowd the importance of America’s 234th birthday.  In Hebrew, she said, 234 stands for a memorial offering.  This year should be a year where America gives themselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice.

And there is a clear way for America to return, Cindy said.

“The Bible is God’s handbook on how to run a nation.”

The message was not all hope as Cindy shared a series of warnings that God has given over the years and how we could face a season of suffering if we don’t heed the warnings and prepare ourselves by “holding our shields up.”

And why does God warn us?

“Because He is a merciful God and doesn’t want us to come to harm,” Cindy said.

However, Cindy said at the end of the day, there’s something that should give us unending joy.

“If we pray,” Cindy said.  “God is going to heal our land!”