By Neal Pollard
Oh the stories that song leaders and preachers could tell! Often, when we sing such standbys as “I Love To Tell The Story,” “Rejoice In The Lord,” or “When We All Get To Heaven,” we do so with little visible enthusiasm or apparent joy. If we sing devotional songs like “Thank You, Lord,” “Shout To The Lord,” or “I’m Happy Today,” are we conveying what we are saying? Occasionally, in our humanity, we come into the assemblies burdened down with cares and problems. There may be a powerful distraction nearby that makes concentrating on what we’re doing in worship more difficult. No one knows more than me how misleading facial expressions can be as a reflection of what is in the heart. Yet, I’ve seen some serial sourpusses and perpetual pouters who claim to be Christians. As James was known to say, “My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
It’s certainly not confined to when we’re engaged in worshipping in song or listening to the sermon. It’s discovered in conversation. Too many times, I’ve encountered Christians who are always disclosing the latest downer in their lives, the problems that pervade them, and the sadness surely saturates them!
Some of the most joyous Christians I’ve known have been more besieged by difficulties than anyone else. They are even graceful enough to be able to talk about them—and, thus, not concealing their troubles—but with a perspective and positivity that reflects their abiding trust in the Great I Am. Three times, Peter speaks to Christians who are distressed by various trials, enduring by faith, and sharing the sufferings of Christ and remarks on their remarkable rejoicing (1 Pet. 1:6,8; 4:13). Perhaps it was their “living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3).
Maybe our long faces are not due to any particular problems, and of all people on earth we, especially in America, are spared many of the trials and difficulties of those in poorer countries. It could be that we have disconnected ourselves from the source of joy. Or, it could be that we have forgotten to practice gratitude and count our blessings. Perhaps, we’ve gotten spoiled or concluded that being happy is the goal of life, and when this occurs we live with an expectation that others and circumstances should be oriented to make us feel good, content, or satisfied.
Let’s challenge each other to wear a smile, to work more at expressing our joy, and to win the battles in the heart that keep us from being characterized by winsomeness and positivity. By this, we’ll be a billboard for Christ and a blessing to everyone else.
By Neal Pollard