“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” ~Proverbs 17:22
This world can be a little much. It only takes a quick scroll through your newsfeed, five minutes of your local newscast, or a glance at the front page of your local newspaper to know that negativity, heartache, and evil are present in this world.
“You are founded in joy, created for joy, and destined for joy.
Joy is where you come from.
Joy is what you are created to experience.
Joy is where you are headed.”
Joy is what you’re created for and where you’re headed, but how do you get there? How are you supposed to have joy when the bad seems to outweigh the good? How do you smile when you’re mourning, when you’re exhausted, when you’re fighting, and when you’re barely hanging on?
What about when life’s mess isn’t necessarily dramatic and devastating, but it’s literal mess? Is there joy among the crayon markings on the walls, the spaghetti-stained shirts, and piles and piles of laundry? Is there joy to be found in the monotonous and not-so pleasant?
Life can be good, bad, and downright ugly. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a joyful, cheerful heart is good medicine and that a crushed spirit dries up the bones. It’s easy to smile and have that cheerful heart when you’re on the mountain and everything is as it should be. That crushed spirit, however, can easily take over when you’re in the valley and wondering how you’ll make it through. The crushed spirit can even win out when you’re in between the valley and the mountain.
Here’s the secret:
The secret to smiling anyway is learning to look for God. You have to look for His fingerprints everywhere. You see, while few of us hear His audible voice, we’re all privy to His work around us. With life and its breakneck pace, it takes discipline to see Him amidst the bad and ugly. You have to train yourself to see, but He’s right there with you and He loves you enough to show you. That’s reason enough to smile anyway when life and all of its junk seems more than you can bear.
Even in the biggest mess -the lowest valley- there’s a reason for thanksgiving. It may seem small in comparison to the trial itself, but that reason for giving thanks is the source of joy. It’s why you smile anyway.
“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning – now; wherever, meaning – here.” -Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
When the setting sun outlines the clouds with a silvery pink, that’s God. The sound of the ocean crashing into the shore? That’s Him. That butterfly flittering around? You guessed it. That’s also Him.
Even in the constant messes, stained clothing, and endless laundry, His fingerprints are there. He’s absolutely there because those precious children that come along with those messes are themselves gifts.
He pursues you and woos you with these gifts. He’s gifting you with reasons to smile even when life isn’t everything you dreamed it would be. When you look for God and His fingerprints and offer Him true, genuine thanks, the joy happens naturally. The smile is instinctive and not circumstantial. Your ability to smile anyway becomes a part of who you are.
Find a reason for giving thanks today and share it with those around you: your family, your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers. Share it with anyone and everyone. After all, joy is contagious. When the world bears down and it’s more than anyone would voluntarily handle, smile anyway. There’s no better way to light the way to Him than by standing out in a dark world.