By Allen White
Proverbs sort of go back and forth. First we’re told if we’re happy to watch out because it can be replaced by grief (Proverbs 14:13). Now, we’re instructed that a cheerful heart is a continual feast. So, let’s look into a couple of facts about proverbs.
First, proverbs are truths regarding what generally happens. If you start a child on the right path, usually they follow the right path, even if they’ve taken a detour at some point (Proverbs 22:6). It is a general principle, but not a guarantee.
The second fact is proverbs often contrast two statements. “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). A merry heart is compared to a broken spirit. The idea is if you want good medicine, take a dose of merriment. But, a bitter pill is bad medicine.
In this proverb, Solomon contrasts oppression with cheerfulness. Oppression is the key to wretched days. Good days are wretched. Bad days are wretched. Oppression turns blue skies gray. It steals the last slice of chocolate cake. It makes your half full glass sour. A cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Some people are naturally optimistic. I am not one of those people, but I tolerate them. Those of you who know me, just tweeted “Amen!” Even though I tend to see the glass half empty, the project half done, the result as just okay, but not good enough, I do experience a cheerful heart.
While I am not naturally prone to cheer, I can certainly conjure it up. I am cheerful when I take two minutes in the morning in complete silence to embrace the Master and Creator of the Universe who longs to spend time with me. I am cheered by meaningful work and the news of life-change. I find myself outright giddy when I remember Who I belong to and what He has done for me.
I delight in my children’s laughter and expressions of their creativity. I celebrate a new healthy recipe my wife has discovered. My heart cheers when at the end of the day, I can share a moment with my wife, or when she laughs at one of my dumb jokes – not to placate me, but because she finds it truly funny.
I don’t plan on converting to optimism any time soon. But, I do have much to be cheerful and grateful about. When I stop to celebrate the great family I have and the joys around me, I have a continual feast.
When do you feel oppressed? God is not putting that darkness on you. Oppression comes from our enemy who wants to defeat and destroy us. God desires for us to discover abundant living (John 10:10).
Here’s the bottom line, and even I must admit it’s true – no one can steal your joy. No circumstance can remove your blessings. The only potential joy robber in your life is your attitude. You have little control over anything else, but you can control your view of the world. This is the key to your continual feast.
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