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"I always try to start the day with laughter," our dear friend said. His smile beams even on his most miserable days. He's had a debilitating disease since he was eight, and now, in his 60's, he lives with pain and nausea. He firmly believes, along with King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, that "a happy heart makes the face cheerful," (Proverbs 15:14 NIV) and "A cheerful heart is good medicine," (Proverbs 17:22)

Most of us have days -- maybe even months -- when things are not going well. When we are tired, when we are sick or when trouble clouds our days, it becomes easy to let our discontent spill over on others. "I've learned that if you want to cheer up yourself, you should try cheering up soneone else," wrote a 13-year-old, ( Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Rutledge Hill Press, 1991). We may sourly think, "Yeah, right! You're not in my situation."

A lonely missionary's daughter, beginning life in the U.S. on her own and dealing with an American culture and lifestyle that was unfamiliar, began to feel depressed. Shocked at her frowning face when she passed a mirror one day, she gave herself a cheesy grin. "It was kind of silly," she said, "but I found it worked every time. I always felt better when I saw a smile on my face, even if it was a goofy one."

Charles Dickens once said that cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers. Most of us want to be pretty or handsome, and no one is attractive wearing a frown.

Paul, the Apostle, advocated being cheerful. When he was on a ship in a three-day "hurricane-force northeaster" (Acts 27:14), he and his companions weer busy lightening the load and possibly they felt too nauseated to fix a meal. They did everything they knew to save themselves; they even ditched the ship's tackle (vs. 19). Huddled together, they "gave up all hope of being saved," (vs. 20). At this low point, Paul spoke to cheer them. He told them an angel visited him during the night, promising to spare his life and the lives of all who sailed with him. "Be of good cheer . . ." Paul exhorted them. "I believe God . . . ." (Acts 27:25 KJV). Paul had experienced God's encouragement before in his life (Acte 23:11) and he knew Him to be faithful to His promises.

When should we be cheery?

* When we are in trouble: Jesus encouraged his companions to "take heart" (John 16:33 NIV) and to "be of good cheer" in a world filled with trouble.

* When we are sick: Jesus told a paralytic to "be of good cheer," (Matthew 9:2) Even in illness we have a delivering Savior.

* When we are afraid: Jesus walked on the water to His storm-tossed, terror-filled disciples. He said, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid," (Matthew 14:27 KJV).

* When we show mercy: Paul exhorts us to do so "with cheerfulness," (Romans 12:8 NIV). Saying "I forgive you" or "Here is help for you" with a gloomy face rarely heartens anyone.

* When we give: II Corinthians 9:7 encourage us to give, "not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver," (NIV). Are we happy when we share what we have?

* When we look: ". . . a cheerful look brings joy to the heart," (Proverbe 15:30 NIV).

Apparently, any time and any circumstance is a great place to be cheerful. We bless people when we show a joy-filled demeanor. Will those who know us best think of us as cheery?


Cecilia Marie said...

Beautiful posts and wise words. No one wants to be around a chronic sour patch. The cheerful and uplifting personalities draw others. They make you feel good. And yes, as you wrote, we can choose to be happy - and cheerful - regardless of our circumstances. But it takes a little effort sometimes. I also loved the scriptural "backup."

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