I piled groceries in my car and carefully exited my parking spot. Suddenly a man darted across the pavement just in front of me, not noticing my approach. I slammed on my brakes, just missing him. Startled, he looked up and met my gaze. In that moment, I knew I had a choice: respond with rolled-eye frustration or offer a smiling forgiveness. I smiled.
Relief flickered across his face, raising the edges of his own lips in gratefulness.
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Is the writer directing us to cheery grins in the face of every interruption, disappointment, and inconvenience life brings? Surely not! There are times for genuine mourning, despair, and even anger at injustice. But in our everyday moments, a smile can offer relief, hope, and the grace needed to continue.
Perhaps the point of the proverb is that a smile naturally results from the condition of our inner beings. A “happy heart” is at peace, content, and yielded to God’s best. With such a heart, happy from the inside out, we can respond to surprising circumstances with a genuine smile, inviting others to embrace the hope and peace they too can experience with God.
While waiting in the gate area of Singapore’s Changi Airport to board my flight, I noticed a young family—mom, dad, and son. The area was crowded, and they were looking for a place to sit. Suddenly, the little boy began loudly singing “Joy to the World.” He was about 6 years old, so I was pretty impressed that he knew all the words.
Noise. Vibration. Pressure. Fireball. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield used these words to describe being launched into space. As the rocket raced toward the International Space Station, the weight of gravity increased and breathing became difficult. Just when he thought he would pass out, the rocket made a fiery breakthrough into weightlessness. Instead of lapsing into unconsciousness, he broke into laughter.
When Moses gathered the children of Israel together to begin work on the tabernacle (Ex. 35–39), he called on Bezalel, a gifted artisan, to help make the furnishings. We’re told that certain women were asked to give their precious bronze mirrors to make the bronze basin he was constructing (38:8). They gave them up to help prepare a place where God’s presence would reside.
Joann had been raised in a Christian home. But when she went to college, she began to question her beliefs and walked away from God. After graduation, she traveled to a number of countries, always looking for happiness but never feeling satisfied. While experiencing some difficulties, she recognized that God was pursuing her and that she needed Him.
Recently, I saw a television ad for a restaurant chain that made a dramatic claim. At those restaurants, the ad said you could “Help Yourself to Happiness.” Wouldn’t it be nice if a helping of potatoes or meat or pasta or dessert would be all that was needed to provide happiness? Unfortunately, no restaurant can fulfill that promise.
Are you looking for encourage- ment? Do you need a little boost today amid all the bad news coming your way? The psalmist David can lift your spirit in an unexpected way through some words we often think of as negative.
Nine years ago today a good friend went out for a lunchtime jog and never came back. Kurt De Haan, who was the managing editor of Our Daily Bread, died of a heart attack on that sunny Thursday. Some of us who worked with Kurt still keep mementos of him in our offices.
After studying the effect of the post-World War II economic boom in Japan, Richard Easterlin concluded that monetary growth does not always bring more satisfaction. More recently, economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers conducted surveys in more than 100 nations and concluded that life satisfaction is highest in the richest countries.