I do not believe in the power of positive thinking... at least not as a stand-alone-principle. Not in the way Norman Vincent Peale and others like him would present it.
I do believe that a merry heart does good like a medicine, and a broken spirit dries the bones. I believe that because the Spirit inspired Solomon to write it (Proverbs 17:22). And, he wrote similar things elsewhere.
Of course, we have Paul's counsel in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true... honest... just... pure... lovely... of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." That is certainly a kind of "power in positive thinking" admonition.
The power is in the truth though. And the truth is that we who are God's children are in a great condition. We are in a great circumstance. No matter how bad things get, God still loves us and our eventual deliverance is assured.
The sorrows and struggles of this life are (1) incomparable to our future glory and (2) are actually contributing to the weight and significance of our future glory. So, the harder life becomes―assuming that we are faithfully serving our King―the more positive our future becomes.
Concerning death, you may have heard it said, "You can't threaten me with heaven!" And, that is a great example of just how positive the truth really is for a true child of God.
Paul pointed out that whether we live or die, we belong to Jesus. So, because of that, it really doesn't matter which way the day turns out.
We do have so much to smile about. We have much to be happy about. We have plenty of reasons to rejoice. The greatest being that we are known of God. Our names are written down in heaven. Jesus said that this is reason enough for us to be cheerful.
And indeed, the joy of the Lord IS our strength. That is a form of "the power of positive thinking."
Naturally, we still experience sorrow, but not in the same way that the lost world does. We have hope and a future. They do not. At least, not a positive and legitimate hope or future. The unregenerate individual hopes that their future will be bright, but they are sure to be mistaken and disappointed. We who are saints have a sure hope and a certain future. And, it will absolutely be even better than we can imagine.
Although we have not seen our Savior, we love Him. But we do not love Him nearly as much as we are loved by Him. And, we do not yet love Him as much as we will love Him once we are fully sanctified in Him! We anticipate it. We long for it. But that glory isn't yet realized. Our cup may be full and running over, but we are destined to get a bigger cup.
The Kingsmen quartet used to sing, "Give the world a smile each day." Amen to that! There is enough to mope about and mourn over. And yes, I mean legitimate pains and problems. But there are also many reasons for gladness.
Evangelist Dan Hawtree used to point out that our Christian prayer meetings often become glorified pity parties or gossip sessions. This should not be the case. We are going into the throne room of heaven when we pray. We are talking to the God who owns and controls it all. Perhaps we should walk in there with some gratitude and adoration. Especially since that is precisely what we are told to do in Psalm 100.
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD... Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing. ... Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name..."
God is good all the time.
All the time, God is Good!
"Oh, woe is me. You don't know what I'm going through. You don't know what I've lost. You don't know how much it hurts. Nobody knows the troubles I've seen! Nobody likes me; everybody hates me: I think I'll go eat worms... blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, etc., etc., etc..."
Well, aren't you a fine Miss Patty Pleasant? I bet people love to be around you. No?
To quote Solomon again, "All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart has a continual feast." (Proverbs 15:15)
Could I put that in today's lingo? Those who focus only on their problems will always be miserable. But the person who choses to see their blessings will feel like there's a reason to throw a party every day.
"This is the day the Lord has made, WE WILL REJOICE and be glad in it!" Why? Because every day is a gift. God made this day the way it is, and He does all things well.
I wrote a song once called, "Happiness is a choice!" And, it is.
Usually these weekly blog entries that I write are addressing some great sadness. But today I feel like some balance is in order. I could list dozens of significant problems that we are all facing. And indeed, both Old and New Testaments admonish us to weep with the weeping and to carry the burdens of those who are weighed down with legitimate burdens.
Still, there is reason enough for us to cheer up.
I preached a funeral Saturday. Afterward the husband of the deceased (who is now a young widower) smiled at me―as he did actually several times during the service―and said that somehow he had a strange mixture of sadness and joy in his spirit. Even in the midst of unimaginable tragedy and difficulty, he could see the silver lining around the storm clouds. He was grateful for the good, even as he endured the bad. This was so refreshing and instructive to me.
I've got heartaches and hardships. You do too. We all do.
But somebody has it much worse than I do. And things could definitely be much, much worse than they are! All in all, I'm one of God's spoiled children. You want to talk about white privilege. Dude, I'm privileged on so many more levels than that. It's not even funny!
We are so blessed! I am so blessed! I have countless reasons to smile.
This reminds me of something I've read several times over the years. It's the testimony of Matthew Henry after being mugged. He wrote, "1.) I am thankful that he never robbed me before. 2), I am thankful that although he took my wallet, he did not take my life. 3) Although he took all I had, it was not much. And 4), I am glad that it was I who was robbed, not I who did the robbing." Now that is the power of positive thinking. That is seeing the world through rose tinted lenses... in a good way.
Incidentally, it's not life that gives us lemons. God gives us lemons. And He always, always, ALWAYS has His reasons. We should all run to Romans 8:28 while we look for a new lemon cake recipes.
And, smile a while.
Turn that frown upside down.
Sing a silly song. Holler a happy hello. Laugh a little.
I'm not recommending that we be unrealistic. Certainly the Bible tells us in James 5:13 that if we are afflicted then we should pray. And, if we are happy then we should sing psalms. So there is certainly a proper time for each emotion. But if we are ever and always down in the dumps, depressed and discouraged―then something has got to give.
After his baby died King David took a bath, changed his clothes, put on some smell-good-stuff, went to the house of God to worship, and sat down to a hearty meal. He said that the time for fasting was over. It was time for feasting. Both were appropriate in their proper place and order.
When Jesus walked this earth he pointed out that His disciples had a good reason for their cheerful disposition. They were walking and talking with the "bridegroom" (Matthew 9:1, Mark 2:19, & Luke 5:34). And friends, so are we! If it was an honor for them to have Him walking with them, how much more so that now He walks in us?
The apostle Paul taught contentment. Whether having abundance or lack, Paul knew how to be content. And he knew why to be content.
We are at rest. We have entered into His rest. The only thing we have to wait on is the clock. Our eternal blessedness is a done deal. Our fellowship is eternal. And when we realize that, we should just smile. Knowing God and being known of Him should bring that response from us. We should smile.