I don’t know about you, but it seems like a lot of folks are on edge these days. If you don’t believe me, just scroll through your social media newsfeed for about five minutes. People are nervous. They’re worried. Stressed to the max. Depressed. Anxious. Angry. Argumentative. The list could go on and on.
The reality is that these difficult days have taken an emotional toll on all of us. In fact, I have found that most of my recent writings and conversations have had a greater sense of brevity and seriousness about them. After all, serious issues require a serious response.
An Important Reminder
However, it’s unhealthy from both a physical and emotional standpoint to remain in a tense posture for a prolonged period of time. We have to take a deep breath and relax. Recently I was reminded of this important truth:
It’s still ok to smile.
In fact, it’s more than ok. You need to smile. So do I. We all do. In fact, no matter what circumstances we’re facing, followers of Jesus have much to smile about. When David was facing difficult circumstances, he was still able to smile and be glad in the Lord in Psalm 16:7-9: “I will bless the LORD who counsels me – even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I will always let the LORD guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely.”
Notice that David mentions that his thoughts troubled him at night. He was undoubtedly facing difficult circumstances, and he could have allowed these thoughts to consume him. But because he was confident in God’s protection, he could still be glad and rejoice in spite of his circumstances.
A List of Blessings
In these difficult days, we can follow David’s example. We can still smile and rejoice in the Lord. We can praise Him for the many blessings He has given to us. If you’ve never done so, let me encourage you to take some time and make a list of blessings. Think of it as a list of things that make you smile. Whenever you feel yourself beginning to stress out over your current challenges, remind yourself of a few items on your blessings list. I’m guessing it won’t take long before you crack a smile.
If you need some inspiration to get you started, here are some blessings from the Lord that put a smile on my face:
- I have eternal life through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
- I am a child of God instead of an enemy of God.
- I am being sanctified on a daily basis.
- I have received every spiritual blessing in Christ (see Ephesians 1:3-14).
- I have a wife who loves me in spite of my many faults.
- I have two sons who bring much joy to our family and are growing up to become godly men.
- I have two godly parents who would do anything for me.
- I have other family members I love very much.
- I have been blessed with some wonderful spiritual mentors in my life.
- I have always been blessed with a host of friends.
- I have a church family that loves God and one another.
- I serve in an association of churches that love partnering together to reach people for Jesus Christ.
- I have a roof over my head and food on my plate.
- I have the privilege to write and encourage others from time to time.
- I love watching our dog run circles around the couch.
- I love action movies.
- I love hearing babies laugh.
- I love riding rollercoasters.
- I love watching (and playing) sports.
- I love hearing a good (and clean!) joke.
This list barely scratches the surface of all the things that bring a smile to my face. God has blessed me in so many ways. And I’m confident He has done the same for you. Your list will be different, but I encourage you to spend some time and write it down. You’ll likely find that your list will cover multiple pages, and it will constantly grow as you discover more and more ways that God has blessed you.
When you feel like you’re becoming stressed out, return to this list, and rejoice. As Paul reminds us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
So, remember, even if you’re wearing a mask, it’s still ok to smile.