Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~ 1 Thess. 5:15-18
If you ask someone knowledgeable what the shortest verse in the Bible is, he will probably tell you, “Jesus wept.” And . . . he’s wrong! Well, at least technically; you can play Mr. or Ms. Smarty-Pants the next time you hear this. Because the New Testament was written in Greek, and the shortest verse in the original (Greek) Bible is: “Rejoice always.”
But what if we don't feel like rejoicing? What do we do about this when we just got rejected by a college, or our spouse left us, or our arthritis decides to act up?
The Bible does not tell us to always be happy. There is a big difference between happiness, our emotional response to the vicissitudes of life, and joy, which is the state of conviction in our ultimate salvation. Secular society always tries to find happiness in the world, and it always fails, sooner or later. Happiness is always temporary. Happiness depends on what happens. Joy is eternal and is a gift from God, when we give ourselves to Christ.
In fact, James tells us, “Count it all joy, when you fall into various trials.” Now, suffering is painful and makes us unhappy; I don't want to diminish the reality of pain. But when we know Christ, suffering, and especially suffering on His behalf, is tempered by a deep spiritual satisfaction that will long outlive the pain we feel. Happiness is a thermometer; joy is a thermostat.
There is a popular song from 1954 that begins, “Smile, though your heart is breaking.” You may weep — Jesus did it! — but remember your joy, even inside a painful period. Remember to smile from time to time, even though you're going through a rough patch. Let the world know that it can't keep you down, because the victory will be yours, soon enough.
Heavenly Father, let me always remember the joy of salvation, even amid the difficulties of life. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer