October 6, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

Principle 7

 

“A Cheerful Heart”

By Susanne Scheppmann, P31 Speaker Team Member, Assistant Editor Online Devotions

 

Key Verse:

Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  (NIV)

 

Devotion:

Let’s call her Pamela.  Pamela’s disability keeps her from fitting in with average people.  I am not sure what is wrong with her, but she is different—physically and socially.  She limps as she busses tables for the hustling wait staff.  She struggles to wipe down tables.  Pamela grimaces when she needs to bend over to pick up a left behind napkin lying on the floor.  She perseveres until the job is completed to perfection.  Struggles pervade every area of her life, but she doesn’t give up.

 

However, that’s not what is amazing about Pamela.  She always keeps a smile on her face.  Pam’s memory for silly jokes amazes everyone.  She provides the opportunity for others to smile.  Sadly, some people laugh at her.  However, once someone gets to know Pamela, they laugh with her.

 

I only know part of her story.  Her life has been difficult from the day she was born with physical handicaps.  Children tormented her. They poked fun of her and the way she walked and talked.  Then in early adolescence, Pamela’s father abused her two sisters and was sent to prison.  The family fell apart.  She was left to fend for herself as a teenager.

 

Astonishingly, when you hold a conversation with Pamela, there is not a trace of bitterness.  She possesses the most positive outlook of anyone I know.  She makes Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch appear depressed.  Do you remember the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?”  No sour lemons exist in Pam’s life. Instead, she pours the refreshing lemonade of laughter into other people’s lives.

 

I admire her.  Myself, I can tend to harbor bitter feelings toward people and events.  Pamela reminds me that life is too short to be cranky and resentful.  I believe God placed her in my life to remind me that terrible things happen to everyone.  Even Jesus warned us of this fact in the Book of John, “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.’” (16:33 NIV) 

 

If we carry bitterness in our hearts, it can dry up our spirit.  Even worse, it can lead others astray.  “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  (Hebrews 12:15. NIV). 

 

So let’s take heart!  A cheerful heart is good medicine, no matter what the ailment.  We can seize cheerfulness, because Jesus has overcome the world.  Let’s not become bitter old women with crushed spirits and cranky, dried-up bones. Instead, let’s try to squeeze out some lemonade to sweeten others’ lives like my friend Pamela.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Lord, help me to keep a cheerful heart regardless of the difficulties in life.  Keep me from growing a heart of bitterness.  Help me to recall that You have overcome this world.  Let me become an example of joy, so that others will come to know You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:

If possible, look at Proverbs 17:22 in a few different versions of the Bible.  Ponder the different phrasing.  Then write your own personalized version. 

 

Reflection Points: 

Do you consider yourself to be bitter over any circumstance in life?

 

Do others consider you to have a cheerful heart?

 

Do you know someone like Pamela?  If yes, how does she affect you?

 

Power Verses:

James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  (NIV) 

 

Proverbs 14:10, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”  (NIV) 

 

Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (NIV) 

 

Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  (NIV) 

 

Additional Resources: 

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue  by Deborah Smith Pegues

 

Get Over it and On With It  by Michelle McKinney

 

An Encouraging Word, ETC Corner