Do you remember Flip Wilson the comedian who said, the devil made me do it.”? He was making a cultural statement that seems to be more and more prevalent today. “It’s not my fault.” It was my upbringing. Nobody gets anywhere with this poverty or money or spirit. If only she/he would have loved me. Nobody cares about me, so I’m just going to cry or how about, rob this bank or break a covenant.
Well, the truth is that it is our fault even if we have had a bad time or circumstances. It is what we do with what we have, how we respond that matters. Today I want to talk about our disposition. We have a choice to be grumbly or cheerful, happy or sad. Yes, it is a choice. Come to think of it, God tells us this too.
“And do not grumble as some of them did-and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Corinthians 10:10). I will leave it at that even though the Bible mentions this problem very negatively some 25 times. Obversely, God uses laughter as a cathartic for sadness or grumbling. Laughter too is a response to circumstances. Not all situations are funny, but laughter is a positive response or perspective on or in it.
Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything under heaven, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Yes, God wants to turn our mourning into dancing. He wants us to have a cheerful heart.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:30). Yes, medicine, something that makes you better. It is God’s prescription for sadness. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart…a cheerful heart has a continual feast…a happy heart makes the face cheerful…a kind word cheers him up” (Proverbs 15:13,15,30; 17:30; 12:25). Get the drift here? It is a heart level issue. Our heart is our center, where God dwells in His Holy Spirit or not. We should be joyful that He has come to live with and in us. Now that is something to be happy about, joyful even!
The Bible talks about the character of a noble wife in Proverbs 31. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.” She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Why is she laughing, because she is prepared and knows that God has provided for her? She has decided to be cheerful, happy and laugh. She gives and gives the proverb tells us. Paul tells us “But God loves a cheerful giver” (2Corinthians 9:7).
The psalmists speak of laughter from beginning to end. “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One…The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4). I am so glad to hear that God does not tremble at the terrible state of humanity on earth. Once He flooded the earth to start over in Noah’s time, Then He had to send His Son (Anointed One) to earth to die for us that we might be saved and redeemed. Now we are awaiting His soon return to rule and reign. “But the Lord laughs at the wicked for he knows their day is coming” (Psalm 37:13). I love that.
In Psalm 126, a song of ascent, the Israelites are returning from captivity with joy. "We were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:1-2). This psalm tells us of how He sent them out weeping because of their disobedience and brought them back rejoicing. “Restore our fortunes, O God like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy” (Ps 126:4-5).
I choose to be happy. Our U.S. Declaration of Independence states that
“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.” It is a pursuit and I don’t believe it is easy to achieve. However, having God in Jesus Christ as our center and His Word as our guide is the “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Be happy!