Sep 25, 2008

The Art of Being Cheerful

A genuine smile never ceases to brighten one’s day. Think of the last time you were flashed a joyful smile, ‘for no reason.’ No doubt it prompted you to smile, too!
What does it mean, this ‘cheerful’ existence? According to Encarta Dictionaries, the word cheerful is 1) happy and optimistic; 2) bright and pleasant...causing people to feel cheerful; and 3) willing and unresentful...complying. WorldBook likewise defines cheerful as being 1) full of cheer; joyful; glad; 2) bringing cheer; pleasant; bright; and 3) willing.
So we know what ‘cheerful’ means. But now the question is: how? How exactly do we be cheerful, pleasant, optimistic, joyful, bright....? How do we go about bringing joy to others?
May I propose to you that, when done through the Holy Spirit and the way the Bible says, being joyful is simple. I must add: note that I said simple, not easy. It is absolutely not easy to rejoice always, as 1 Thessalonians says. Definitely not- but, Biblically, it is very simple. The Word maps it out continually and simply for our reference.
Of course the first step is having our LORD Jesus in our lives, and giving Him control over anything. When we fully surrender every single little bit of our lives, right up to the spiritual state of this world and right down to our morning schedules, we will be most joyful. There is no joy in constantly worrying, moping about wishing for what can’t be. It’s just that simple.
When we are not worrying about the past, present, nor future, we can concentrate on serving Him and bringing His joy and hope to the world. That is another thing that helps us be cheerful- focussing on the hope He has given us, of eternal life with Him! There is truly nothing on earth that can compare with that. That hope overshadows anything in our circumstances!
We also need to abstain from complaining. Or, let me rephrase that accordingly: we must not touch complaining with an one-hundred foot pole! It is perhaps one of the most widely-used tactic that the devil uses to cause us to stumble. When we complain, we drag ourselves down. It brings us low and more prone to being attacked! Philippians 2:14-15 commands, “Do ALL things without grumbling or disputing, that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world...” If we are abstaining from complaining and grumbling, we will be bright- a shining light- in this dark world! Please note that one of the definitions of cheerful is bright. Cheerfulness is a light! It shows the world that being a Christian is not a lifeless, joyless existence. It is life!
Another important point to remember is that self-pity is not godly whatsoever. It is complaining’s mother. Before complaining comes self-pity, and before that comes pride! Pride breeds self-pity because we think to ourselves, I am worth more than this. Or, I don’t deserve this! The fact is, we all deserve worse than we get! For, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” Self-pity wonders why we are ill or why it had to happen to us. It questions God’s will. No doubt you have heard of the ‘pity-party.’ That is precisely what the world wants us to have! A pity party in which we focus on ourselves and not those around us, who are in need of a Saviour- our LORD! We wine, we grovel, we complain. We grumble and seep farther and farther into the sticky mud that only God can get us out of. It is related to that ‘Me-ism’ religion the world is encouraging. It’s all about you! You don’t deserve that. And so on.
We must consider ourselves blessed! There is no room for self-pity, complaining, or any of that, when we remember that we are so blessed! Instead of complaining about the fact that we are ‘stuck in this stuffy home all day’ or ‘mocked continuously,’ we should stop and think about those in other countries who would give their right arm to have a roof over their heads, who live in cardboard boxes and who worry about being shot at when they wake in the morning. We should think about those who watch their children starve to death, who have seen their parents murdered before their eyes, who are constantly on the run escaping from those who would seek their deaths. It certainly puts our circumstances into a different perspective! Suddenly we have nothing to complain about. Suddenly we feel ashamed that we would even complain! Note that, however, if we can find nothing to be joyful for, there is always the fact that we are alive. Well, I assume that you are alive if you’re reading this. Take a breath! Feel your pulse! How fortunate, how blessed we are, and how amazing it is that God has given us life! Or if we are dying, how blessed we are that He would want us home to be with Him!
Now we come to the next question: Why would we want to be cheerful? Is there any point to it? Why should we?
Firstly, we are commanded to. James 1:2 says, ‘Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.’ On the word of Galatians 5:22, ‘...the fruit of the Spirit such things there is no law.’ 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 commands us to, ‘Rejoice always;’ This should be reason enough for us to be cheerful! After all, if our good Lord says to, then we very well should rejoice in everything! And yet He has given us more Biblical reasons to be cheerful.
Secondly, God gives us joy! Isaiah 52:9 declares, ‘Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.’ He has redeemed us! He has comforted us! He has saved us! What a reason to rejoice! Again in chapter 51 verse 3, we are told, ‘Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places...Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody.’ The LORD is truly our comfort in whatever happens to us! Whatever comes our way, we can rejoice and rest in Him and His comforting arms! Praise Him! Psalms 21:6 also says, ‘For Thou dost make him [the king] most blessed forever; Thou dost make him joyful with gladness in Thy presence.’
Thirdly, cheerfulness brings healing! How amazing! I have found Proverbs 17:22 to be true- for it states, ‘A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.’ Indeed, in illnesses, when I keep a joyful spirit and thank the LORD for His goodness to me and even for the illness I would be experiencing, it has brought healing quicker and even helped me feel better! I repeat, how amazing!
Our fourth question, as we come to it now, is When are we to be cheerful? Why, always, of course! For in Philippians 4:4 we are commanded to, ‘Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice!’ In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, as I already have quoted, we are told, ‘Rejoice always.’ They are strong commands! In Philippians, Paul, who was inspired by God, knew it was an important point, so he emphasized it- Rejoice...again, I will say, rejoice!
Always? Could it be? But yes! Always. What does always include? Well, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every...and so on and so forth. Does this include the sad times? Some would say not, but that’s quite unlogical! Of course ‘always’ would include the sad times! And they would include the good times! The hard times! The frustrating times! The painful times! The delightful times! The depressing times! The terrifying times! Every little bit of time on this earth that the LORD blesses us with, we are to praise Him! We are to rejoice!
I suppose this calls for another definition- this time, of rejoice. According to Encarta Dictionaries: 1) be happy, and 2) make somebody happy. WorldBook says, 1) to be glad; be filled with joy...and, 2) to be joyful at. So we are to be joyful at every circumstance! We are to be glad and be filled with joy! How wonderful a command! It is ever so much more delightful to rejoice than to complain, and to have joy rather than sorrow!
Here is another query to close with, my friend: Where are we to be cheerful? I guess everywhere! For if we are to rejoice always, that would mean wherever we are!
This means at home- where we perhaps least feel like rejoicing, when there are dirty diapers to clean, or wailing babies to soothe, or screaming children to be gentle with, or school to do, or laundry to do, or people to serve, or fights to calm, or relationships to fix, or any of those other ‘distasteful’ things!
This means at church- where there is perhaps strife, or irritating folks, or dissensions, or people who hate you, or unbiblical principles.
This means at work- where you are perhaps weary of doing it, but it has to be done, or where there are unkind people, or disasters, or unpleasant experiences.
This means during everywhere- where you are hated, or kicked, or hit, or spit upon, or despised, or ignored, or persecuted, or unloved, or rejected, or abandoned, or disregarded, or disrespected.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” As Philippians 4: 13 and 19 say, when God gives us a command to do, He supplies for us the grace. He has given us the grace and strength to do this. He supplies all our needs when we obey Him! We cannot dust off this command, to rejoice always, simply because we think we have no grace for it or we have not been convicted. We simply obey!
Our LORD has given us immeasurable hope and love and grace. How wonderful is He who has delivered and redeemed us!
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the God of gods, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who alone does great wonders, for His lovingkindness is everlasting...
Who remembered us in our low estate, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
And has rescued us from our adversaries, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Who gives food to all flesh, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 136

We have been so blessed that our LORD, who reigns over all, would consider and remember us, in our lowliness! What a wonderful reason to be cheerful!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very beautifully worded. Thanks.

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