What do you do when someone tells you to be happy and you don’t feel happy? And what’s more, you don’t even want to be happy? Well, maybe you’d kind of like to be, but most of the time you’re not. You not really sad either as far as that goes.
You just are.
Your life isn’t characterized by brilliant blues, reds, yellows or greens. And not even shiny black. Color you grey and not several shades of it either.
I knew a guy one time that could take the color of life from me with the sound of his voice. I could be sitting at my desk, joyfully listening to the birds singing, basking in a soft sunshine streaming in my window. Suddenly the phone would ring and I heard his voice.
Instant depression. That guy could send Zig Ziglar into despair.
I kind of wondered what to think this morning when a fellow named Paul reached out and whopped me between the eyes with this, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessa. 5:16-18, NIV)
Listen to how Eugene Peterson renders these verses, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (Message)
Sometimes I think he may as well have said, “Climb Mt. Everest. Whip an alligator. Find a cure for cancer.”
To listen to the Paul, you’d think we have a choice in the matter.
“We don’t, do we? Do we? I mean you don’t know my situation. I’ve got it tough. I like to be happy and joyful but I don’t have anything to rejoice about.”
Hum. If memory serves me correctly, Paul was writing to some people who were in a tough, tough test. And he tells them to have joy? C’mon Paul. Be compassionate. Feel sorry for us. Make excuses for our wailing and worrying.
“Be cheerful.” How do you do that?
Here are some hints:
1. Be intentional about joy. Make up your mind you’re going to rejoice, to be cheerful. Sometimes you have to act like it before it comes. Pushing up the corners of your lips, lighting a smile in your eyes and looking for someone to show God’s love, opens the door WIDE so that joy can prance right through.
How? You can figure it out, if you really want to be obedient. Make up your mind you’re going to do it.
2. Be prayerful in your daily living. Mutter praises, prayers and thanks under your breath during the course of the day. Replace “Big-Mac Attacks” with praise attacks.
3. Give thanks in every situation. We argue about whether to give thanks “in” the situation or “for” the situation. My advice is to forget the debates and just start thanking God. At least three times a day, screech your life to a halt, look around and think about someway the Lord Jesus has blessed you. Then simply say, “Thanks.”
4. Be “rememberful.” There, I’ve invented a word but I had to have something that went with intentional, prayerful, and thankful. If you have a hard time praising, remember what God has done in your life. Paul remembered a time when he tried as hard as he could to live up to God’s commands by his own hard work but he kept falling and bumping his head. Then one day he found the key. Remembering that day sparked joy.
“It is an agonizing situation, and who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my sinful nature? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24, 25 J.B . Phillips)
Fill up your heart and mind with what He has promised in His Word, then remind yourself of that every time you think of it during the day. And think of it a lot.
So, just to get started, what are you going to do TODAY to kick-start your joy?
No, no, no. Don’t you leave yet! What are you going to DO? When you figure that out, then you can go.
“Instead of, “do what you love,” perhaps the more effective mantra for the entrepreneur, the linchpin and maker of change might be, “love what you do.”
If we can fall in love with serving people, creating value, solving problems, building valuable connections and doing work that matters, it makes it far more likely we’re going to do important work.” Seth Godin
What do you call a fish with no eyes? A “fsh.”