“A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit.” Proverbs 15:13 CSB
The key to being cheerful is a joyful heart. This so easy to miss if we don’t stop and think about it for a moment. I find this tricky, since I’m always trying to be cheerful when I’m around other people. After all, no on wants to be the one bringing everyone down with their sad hearts. But the truth is, sometimes I do have a sad heart and it definitely makes my spirit feel broken. The dilemma then becomes, how can I maintain a joyful heart at all times?
Gratitude! The key is gratitude.
My favorite true life example of this is Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian during WWII who was imprisoned in Ravenstock concentration camp for helping Jews escape. Her sister, Betsie and her were together when they were imprisoned. By the grace of God they were able to sneak a Bible in with them. Here’s where it gets good, their cell was infested with fleas. Tons of fleas. And her sister Betsie made her thank God for the fleas. Corrie did. You know how God answered that? Because of the fleas, the guards wouldn’t come into the cell. This meant they were free to study the Bible without worry of persecution. The fleas were God’s army protecting them in the worst moments of their lives. Betsie did not survive the prison, nor did their father. Only Corrie survived, God did amazing things with her story.
That is gratitude. Thanking God for the fleas. When you can begin to find anything to thank God for in your life, no matter how small it is, you find joy. No matter how insignificant it may seem to you, anything at all, you start to let joy into your heart. As Mark Batterson says, “Each of us takes 23,040 breaths a day. Right there is something to thank God for.” Even if you don’t think you have something to thank God for, you do. Ever since my trip to El Salvador, I’m more grateful for running water than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m careful to turn it off if I’m not using it. I thank God for it constantly. It often convicts me of the privileged life I live. Because I visited a home that didn’t have running water, it only had a cement cistern filled with water. God only knows what bacteria it was hosting. And that’s what they used for everything, cooking, cleaning etc. I didn’t eat the tamales we made there, I’m ashamed to admit. I used the out house they had while I was there, so glad my bladder is small. I will never forget it. I don’t want to forget it. I want to always be thankful for running water.
The key to cheerfulness is a joyful heart. The key to a joyful heart is gratitude. Find something to be grateful for first, you’ll find your cheer.