DayBreaks for 9/10/19 – Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

Happy and sad at the same time?

DayBreaks for 9/10/19: Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I have spent some time lately with some very discouraged and unhappy people.  Let’s be honest: if we look at this world for very long at all, there is much to get discouraged about!  Disease and death, disappointment, rejection, mistakes in judgment, financial challenges, relationship difficulties…you know the score.  Life is tough.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason said: “In short, Scripture never suggests (unlike many churchgoers) that the wearing of a cheerful countenance is a good tonic for the world.  On the contrary, in Ecclesiastes we read, Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart (7:3).  How is it we have bought the lie that a Christian’s face is only publicly presentable when the corners of the mouth are pushed up?  The Apostle James actually exhorts us to …grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom’ (4:9). As the poet Emily Dickinson put it in her trenchant style, ‘I like the look of Agony, because I know it’s true.’

“Undoubtedly Scripture exhorts us to ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ and to ‘Be of good cheer.’  Yet nowhere are we commanded to ‘put on a happy face.’”

We are encouraged to rejoice because we know our names are written in heaven.  We are not to delight in the suffering per se, but in what the suffering is building into our character, knowing that the Lord has a perfect plan for us that will result in wholeness some day.  In the meantime, false cheerfulness may lead to charges of hypocrisy.  Job and David knew what it was to hurt and to weep and wail as a result.  But they also knew that they couldn’t stay with their focus on themselves and their troubles indefinitely or the burden would have become crushing.  They eventually lifted their eyes upwards to receive the help they needed in the time of their greatest pain. 

God doesn’t deny you the right to be honest about your feelings.  Quite the opposite!  He wants you to be honest with yourself and with him and others about them.  It is only then that He can begin to shape us into the image of the Suffering Servant who offers His joy to the entire world.     

PRAYER: Let us be honest with our pain and hopeful in our upward glances!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 08/01/12 – Where Discontent Goes to Die

DayBreaks for 08/01/12 – Where Discontent Goes to Die

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  (Ps. 23:1)

Come with me to the world’s most oppressive prison.  Just ask the inmates; they will tell you.  They are overworked and underfed…No prison is so populated, no prison so oppressive, and what’s more, no prison is so permanent.  Most inmates never leave.  They never get released…The name of the prison?  You’ll see it over the entrance.  Rainbowed over the gate are four cast-iron letters that spell out its name:  W-A-N-T.

“They don’t want much, mind you.  They want just one thing.  One new job.  One new car.  One new house.  One new spouse.  They don’t want much.  They just want one.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light)

Max has pretty much hit it on the head.  We just want one thing, don’t we?  What I want is probably quite different than what you want.  And what you want is different than that for which your friend wishes.  And when I get that one thing – that very special thing that I’m wanting – am I happy?  Yes.  If truth be told, I am.  That is, until I find out that somewhere, someone has invented a better gizmo than I bought.  Or until the car no longer smells new, or until the new model year comes out and I like the looks of it even better.  Then I’m stuck.  And what I wanted is not as fun anymore – and it creates the beginnings of an ache in me to want again.  Max continued: “If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink or digest, then face it – you are in prison, the prison of want.  The good news is you have a visitor and your visitor has a message that can get you paroled…look across the table at the psalmist David.  He motions for you to lean forward.  ‘I have a secret to tell you,’ he whispers, ‘the secret of satisfaction.  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want’ (Ps. 23:1).

“David has found the pasture where discontent goes to die…as if he is saying, ‘What I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life.

“Let me remind you of two biblical truths:

YOUR STUFF ISN’T YOURS: Ask any coroner.  Ask any embalmer.  Ask any funeral home director.  ‘Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, he departs.  He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.’  (Eccl. 5:15) 

IT’S NOT YOU.  Who you are has nothing to do with the clothes you wear or the car you drive.  Jesus said, ‘Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.’  (Lk. 12:15)

Are you a prisoner in this prison?  No?  That’s good, if that’s what you think.  But let me pose to you the two questions that will really put a clear vision in your mind, ones that Max posed in his book: “What is the one thing separating you from joy?  How do you fill in this blank: ‘I will be happy when ______________’?

Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this: if your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy?  If not, then you are sleeping in the cold cell of discontent.  You are in prison.  And you need to know what you have in your Shepherd.”

It is interesting that David’s declaration of contentedness is not coupled with verses two or three of Psalm 23, but is the logical extension of the first phrase as if saying: “The Lord is my shepherd, therefore I shall not want.”  David’s lack of wanting had nothing to do with what he possessed, except for the shepherd himself.  If we have God, can anything else compare?

If we think that having something will make us happy, then we have a false god to whom we bow.

PRAYER: We are people of insatiable appetites, Lord.  Teach us to be content with “enough” and please kill our spirits of discontent!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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