Disease, murder, rioting, losing your job. There is a lot happening in our country right now that weighs on the heart. Those are a few things that are affecting the whole country, but don’t forget about loved ones dying, car accidents, fights, floods, financial strife, break-ups, and a whole host of other bad things that happen to people every day. How can we possibly stay happy when so many lousy things are happening in our lives?
Proverbs 15:15 says that a miserable heart means a miserable life, but a cheerful heart fills the day with song. You might think that the verse is only stating the obvious; if I feel sad, I am going to live a sad life, and if I feel happy, I am going to live a cheerful life. However, this is a proverb meant to teach us, and it is trying to tell us that we have a choice as to how our heart feels. You get to choose if you have a miserable heart or a happy heart. You still might be thinking, dude, how in the world do you expect me to choose to be happy when my mother just died, or my best friend was just diagnosed with cancer? That is some heavy stuff for a person to deal with, especially when it involves someone you love so dearly.
I was having a bad day some time ago because of something happening with someone I love, and then it hit me. God loves this person even more than I do so I wonder what His day is like? Then it hit me some more. God knows and loves every person in the world and there are many millions of them dealing with bad stuff every day. I was down in the dumps because of the one person in my life, so God must have been super-duper down in the dumps because of all the people He loves so dearly that were suffering in some way. However, I knew that couldn’t be true. I just don’t picture God moping around up in heaven.
So how does He keep a cheerful heart? I know, I know, He’s God so He can do anything, and we don’t begin to have the capabilities He has. Though, I think there are two main reasons He is not overcome with sadness and these are reasons we can also be happy when bad things happen. First, He focuses on all the good things that are happening. His heart is made glad when He sees someone feed the poor, go to church for the first time, be baptized, or when someone praises Him for all that He is. In the same way, we can also choose to focus on the good things in life. Second, He knows what is coming, a Kingdom on earth where there is no more pain and suffering. There is not one bad thing that can happen to you that can take away your chance to be in the Kingdom if you have made the choice to accept the gift of eternal life. That reward FAR outweighs anything that can happen during this very short lifetime. All that bad stuff becomes quite insignificant when you realize it has no effect on your salvation.
Will you be sad if your mother dies? Of course, but it is your choice if you want to mope around for months or years and continually dwell on her death. Or you can appreciate the great memories you had with your mother and focus on what is good in your world. Hopefully, you can also look forward to seeing her again in the Kingdom after she gets done with her long nap. Those twenty or fifty years without her in this life may seem like forever, but that amount of time is insignificant when you consider you will get to spend infinity years with her in the future.
You may be thinking, what if my mother was not a Christian and will not be in the Kingdom? There is more sadness when that hope for her is gone. It seems like we will be sad when we reach the Kingdom and some of our loved ones are not there with us, but we know that there will be no sadness in the Kingdom. How can that be? My guess is that we will understand that justice needed to occur, and we will be ok with the punishment they received because they deserved it.
Bad things are going to happen to you and those you love, but you have a choice to be happy or not. Don’t dwell on what makes you sad, think about what makes you happy. Moreover, don’t let the bad parts of life rob you of the joy you can feel knowing that Jesus will soon return to establish the Kingdom for us for an eternity.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+13-15&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 16-18 as we begin a week of devotions with Stephanie Fletcher on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan