Not only because my dog had to have a lump removed that turned out be cancerous. Not just because my kids have recently decided that pre-6am is the best time to get up, get loud and get the rest of us up as well! Not only because some of my mates are really going through the grinder at the moment. And not just as Mother’s Day fast approaches and for the first time in my life I don’t have a mother to hug and make a fuss of!!
No, on top of all that there have been a lot of pressures and strains that have come hand-in-hand with being both a Pastor and a pioneer of a young church plant, and while it would be completely inappropriate to go into details here on the blog, rest assured the events of this last week have sought to rob me of my joy and deprive me of peace! At times, I guess it’s fair to say that I haven’t been the happiest bunny in Rabbitland! Which is why I loved reading this verse this morning:
“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (Proverbs 15v13)
It reminds me of that old Christian chorus:
“With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm…”
Now I’ve got to say that I completely DO NOT endorse fake Christianity! I think Christians who walk round with fake smiles, fake “I’m fine!”s and fake hope are doing themselves, their God and their world a disservice! However, I also believe that we DO NOT have to remain in a place of sorrow and a crushed spirit. There is a third way! It is possible to genuinely smile in the face of adversity – to smile through the storm!! So what is that third way?
Read that verse again.
The key to joy is not changing our circumstances, but refocussing the eyes of our heart!
So how exactly do you do that? It’s at this point in the blog that I feel the need to just go off on one! This isn’t going to be a deep, considered, structured and well thought-through theological framework for where my joy should come from. Rather I’m just going to go nuts and rant about a load of stuff that I’m thankful to God for right now, and that hopefully will cheer my heart and write a big, fat smile across my chops.
So here we go – a bunch of reasons why I should rejoice:
- The God of the universe loves me with an everlasting love
- Jesus died for me
- Jesus rose for me
- I’m saved by grace
- I’m forgiven forever
- I’m heaven-bound
- I’m no longer hell-bound
- I’m no longer a slave but a son (Galatians 4v7)
- I’ve heard God’s voice through the Bible this week
- I’ve seen direct answered prayer this week
- I’ve had the privilege of teaching the Bible this week
- ALL God’s promises are always true
- God is with me (even when it doesn’t feel like it!)
- I love my job!
- God is at work in my life
- God is at work in my church
- The prodigals are coming home
- My wife is a babe!
- Seriously, she is!!
- My kids are a precious gift
- I have a warm home
- I have eaten food every day this week
- My bills are paid
- I have some fantastic friends
- My family haven’t fallen apart since mam died
- My mam’s in heaven
- My dog’s not dead
- The sun is shining
- I can still see some snow on the mountain opposite (I love snow!)
- God is good and He is in control!!
Straight up – I genuinely enjoyed the process of writing that! I honestly feel elated. In fact I’m buzzin’! Thank you Jesus!!
Whoever you are reading this and no matter what your circumstances, I want to encourage you to focus on the glory, the gospel and the goodness of God, and see if your heart doesn’t start to glow and give you a God-given face-lift!
Lord, thank you for all these gifts that have blessed my heart. I pray that as I step out now into the rest of the day – my face will tell the world how good you are and how thankful I am!