I awoke this morning after a restless night feeling a little anxious about things. What things you may ask… Well, to be honest… I have NO idea! So, I laid there in bed for a few moments and concentrated on calming myself down. Then I arose, made the bed, petted the dog, brushed my teeth and went into the kitchen to get the coffee going.
But by now you know me! I wasn’t about to let a physical feeling of anxiousness get me down. (notice I said “physical sense”… as this was not an inner spiritual sensing of any kind) So, what did I do? You guessed it! I immediately began to be joyful in the Lord. As I walked down the hallway, I began to speak out my faith by simply repeating from my heart, “Praise You Jesus, Praise You Jesus!”
I’ve been recording and watching some older episodes of NCIS Los Angeles on ION TV and one common phrase that the two main characters say repeatedly after helping each other out of another life and death situation is “That’s what we do!” So, I guess I would have to make the same comment after this morning’s situation fizzled out… “Praising the Lord in the midst of trials and tribulations is what I do!” Especially after some 48 years of experience doing just that with Piper at my side!
In a matter of a few dedicated moments, I went from feeling anxious to being quite HAPPY! And you know what? I like being happy! Don’t you?
I came across an article the other day on “The Secrets of Happy People.”* It purported that HAPPY PEOPLE tended to be more successful in life, have better health, are more social, have a more philosophical view of life using laughter and humor, relate better to others in need, engage in meaningful pursuits and live in a more positive environment. That sounds like the life I want to live… In fact, it sounds a lot like the life that Piper and I carved out for ourselves and our family.
As our anniversaries began to add up, it seemed like we always had someone ask us what was the key to our longevity together. And besides the normal comments like teamwork, strong communication and lots of giving and taking, we always centered around our foremost trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word. We discovered early on that our unfailing trust in Him and his Word gave us a joyful, peaceful and confident outlook on life… in the midst of ANY situation!
Psalm 126:3 in the Message paraphrase perfectly sums up our personal statement of faith by saying, “GOD was wonderful to us; we are one happy people.” Another portion of scripture that reads our mail is found in 2 Corinthians 8:2. When the Apostle Paul was writing about the resiliency and faith of the churches in the Macedonia province he stated, “Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts.”
I had to shout at the table when I read that verse in 2 Corinthians 8:2 this morning. It was so loud that I startled the dog right off the couch! As a former boss used to say at Hewlett Packard, “I’ve been there, done that and won the T-shirt!”
I also realized as I thought on Philippians 4:4-5 again, that a joyful response in the midst of trials and tribulations causes one to respond more appropriately to the needs at hand. That’s why the scripture tells us to, “Always be joyful in the Lord! I'll say it again: Be joyful! Let your gentleness be known of all men. The Lord is near.” (God’s Word ©/Darby Bible) As I tossed a couple of sausage links onto the hot griddle, it suddenly dawned on me that this is exactly what Paul is trying to convey to his readers.
I’ve seen it unfold that way on numerous occasions in my life and especially during the last eight years with other folk’s responses to Piper’s declining health. The ones who were sad, depressed, fearful or just plain angry did not always respond to our situation and the way we were handling it with the appropriate behavior. The Message Bible tells us that with our joyful response to people’s troubles we should “Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them.” (Philippians 4:5)
Those lacking a joyful attitude made it pretty clear from their words and actions that they were against us and not for us. Who do you think that we wanted or needed to be around in our deepest time of need?
So, I said all that to say, that the choice is up to you and me… and as for me… I continue to choose to “BE HAPPY!” My day is going down a completely different path right now than it could have gone had I not decided to put on a JOYFUL ATTITUDE and proclaim it throughout my house. In fact, when I opened the front door and looked out the glass storm door across my freshly trimmed front yard to the neighborhood before me, I began to shout “It’s a PRAISE THE LORD kind of day today, neighborhood!”
Don’t worry, the streets were deserted and I doubt that anyone actually heard me… no one but me… and it made me feel a whole lot better! Have a good and HAPPY weekend dear friends and as you go out into your world over the next couple of days, take a JOYFUL ATTITUDE with you and say with me… “I am expecting my HAPPY, JOYFUL attitude to influence my world today!”