Remember the scene in “Forrest Gump” when he was running across the country and a truck passed by that threw mud onto him? He wiped it off with a towel, unknowingly creating the yellow smiley face logo? It does not take much for me to smile. My face muscles are creased with smiles and I tend toward a sunny disposition. I used to have a pen with a smiley face on the end of it. I’d rather use my energy to smile, than frown, fret, or whimper. How about you?
The sight of a smile brings a grin to my mug. I just cannot help it. That is why Piglet is one of my favorite characters from Winnie the Pooh. Piglet would rather walk around the neighborhood smiling than face the day with a frown (sorry, Eeyore), or a look of utter boredom.
During reading time one day in grade school, one of my teachers described a good smile as “an upward curl of the corners of the mouth and a brightening of their eyes.” I know some of you can see Dr. Seuss’s, the “Grinch” right now up on the mountain looking down over Whoville, but that is a different kind of smile with mischievous intent. My point is a smile lights up a person’s entire face. That kind of smile may lead to gut-busting belly laughter that is hard to stop.
The Older Testament describes a woman who was not afraid to chuckle a bit, even at her own expense. Once she even laughed at the wrong time. In Genesis 18, Sarah, the wife of Abraham, over heard God telling her husband that she would have a son. The abruptness of the declaration from the Almighty was startling not because she heard it seemingly by coincidence. The irony was that Abraham was then 100 years old and Sarah herself was 90! Not surprisingly, she laughed out loud in incredulity and shock. Wouldn’t you? After all, when and where do ninety-year old women have babies?
God’s response in verse 14 was, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Sarah’s disbelief did not last long. When she later gave birth to a son, her laughter turned to joy. She was so affected (tickled maybe?) that she said in Genesis 21:6, “Everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” She named her boy, “Isaac,” which means “laughter.” Think she giggled a bit whenever she looked at him over the years?
The implication in Scripture is that God’s provision made Sarah rejoice. She did not try to hide her enthusiasm, but hoped others would join her in recognizing God’s gift. What a delight that Sarah found late in her life. She was able to make a habit of finding joy in God’s gifts.
Read Philippians 4:4-9.
It seems clear to me that God desires us to experience joy in our lives. It is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5, as by-products of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Paul, the author of the letter to the first century Christians in Philippi, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice.” Simply stating it was not enough. The apostle Paul said it twice in Philippians 4:4 to make sure the message got through.
List five things you can rejoice in today. If you read from Philippians 4:4 to verse 9, you’ll learn how to keep the joy in your life. Grow devotionally. Focus on how God has blessed you. Say thanks. Practice rejoicing. Smile, too. You may even find yourself laughing out loud.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz