When I was listening to the survivors of the worst fire season in California history, I was struck with how happy most of them were happy just to be alive. They had lost everything they owned, and yet they considered themselves “blessed” to be alive. In surviving, they had discovered something about their own resilience that they could never have known apart from that event.
Are you able to be happy just because you are alive and the sun is shining? Or, if it is storming outside, are you happy to have a roof over your head?
As believers, we are encouraged – no, we are commanded – to have an attitude that reflects happiness. But God doesn’t tell us to do something without telling us how to do it: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessa 5:16-18)
To be happy, we must be thankful, recognizing that God’s will is being worked out in all the circumstances of our lives. Because His will is always good, acceptable, and perfect, we can be genuinely thankful… and happy.
Have you ever seen a spoiled child who has just been deprived of some small thing? If not, just go to a grocery store and listen to the whiners and fit-throwers who go through the check-out line demanding a candy bar from a mother who will usually give in: “Oh, go ahead. Take it and hush.”
We must sometimes seem like spoiled children, pouting and making demands of our Heavenly Father because we don’t have all we think we need. When we begin to take stock, we may discover how very blessed we are.
The story is told of a woman named Jan Struthers who died a few years ago. Since her death, attention has been given to a little poem she wrote, which was read at her funeral. Not only does the poem reveal a rare spirit, but it also inspires and enlightens others:
One day my life will end; and lest
Some whim should prompt you to review it,
Let her who know the subject best
Tell you the shortest way to do it:
Then say “here lies one doubly blest.”
Say “She was happy.” Say: “She knew it.”
That is the sharp point – “She knew it.” So many people who have so many materials of happiness do not know it. Instead of really knowing their happiness and being grateful for it, their eyes are roving over the fence to the seemingly greener grass far away. The spirit of thankfulness will help one to know this happiness and save life from one long drawn-out sight.
I hope your life is not “one long drawn-out sigh.” But if your conversation includes “If only…. “and Oh me! I wish…” you can begin to turn it around.
Make a list of everything that is okay, right, enjoyable, healthy, stable in your life. And with each entry, thank God because each of those items, however simple, is a gift from Him!
(c) 2009 April Lorier