Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Take a look around you today.
Look into the faces and into the eyes of those around you.
Do they seem happy to you? Are their heads down; avoiding your eyes? Do they return your look with a smile or a steely glare?
Now, look in the mirror… are you at peace? With God? With those around you? Or is everyone seemingly ignorant, incompetent or just a nuisance to you and we should just get out of your way?
We have all been in stressful situations and seasons of trouble. But, there are those who are in the midst of a trial, or dealt a crippling blow and seem to go on effortlessly as if it doesn’t faze them. How do they do it? Is it real or drug induced?
I have found that there is a contentment available to every child of God – no matter the circumstances. The Apostle Paul found it.
Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Many would say, “I cannot compare to Paul, the uber-Christian.”
But we fail to see the key in the verse that follows:
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Far too often, we feel we have to work up in the flesh this persona of gladness and joy… the picture of ‘contentment’. When Paul tells us plainly – it comes directly from God.
Many have been with someone whose words, demeanor and very presence calms our hearts, lifts our spirits and wraps us in acceptance and love. God longs for us to make Him the ‘go to’ person for that comfort we seek.
The world offers up its version of ‘happiness’.
Possessions. Power. Position. Influence. Fame. Many will spend a lifetime chasing what they think will make them happy, only to find emptiness, loneliness, heartache and a life wasted. It was never more evident to me when I read of Paul and Silas in prison.
Acts 16:23-24 “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”
The inner prison was the lowest part of the jail; often close to where the channels of the city’s sewerage ran. Dark, dank, smelly and rat-infested; that is the scene of two men who made a choice to sing and praise God instead of criticize, complain and sink into depression.
But then we read:
Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
You and I are not given the playbook for our life to know exactly what we will face on a moment-by-moment basis. But we have been placed in relationship with the One who does. Taking the time to meet with God before you face the day is the best investment any child of God can make.
If you have declared yourself to be a Christian; whether in the home, the neighborhood, the classroom or the workplace; there will be those who will quietly and silently watch you to see if this ‘Jesus’ thing is real.
Having a merry heart is not beyond the realm of possibility – no matter what your circumstances.
None of us are immune to being let down or disappointed. We cannot insulate ourselves from the storms that are bound to come. But we do have that Rock that is higher than I; that shelter in the time of storm.
We have been given not just comfort, but the Comforter. We do not just have peace but, are a child of the Prince of Peace.
A great witness and testimony is when you and I can say, “Here is the storm that I was facing; and here is how God brought me through…”. But, an even greater testimony is having a merry heart as you go through it.
Satan wants to find what it is that will break your spirit – because once he finds it, he won’t let up. I’ve met people whom ol’ smutty face had all but taken their last breath from them, who came to find the haven of rest; renew their relationship with Christ and began to find sweet waters that brought life and joy back.
Satan is a master thief. He wants to take from us what God gives freely. He knows what it is like to be in God’s near presence. He chose to rebel against God and knows exactly what it cost him. He wants us to experience the same misery, pain and loss that he is going through.
But we have a choice as well.
Let that merry heart be the medicine to dry up your bitterness and your anger and bind up your deep wounds. Let it be the balm to heal your soul. When you find that God is your all-in-all, you can find joy in leading others to drink the same sweet waters that you and I found in our time of need.