The Attitude of the Heart
Years ago we had a cartoon character in our papers named Joe Btfsplk. Wherever he was, there was a cloud over his head. He was a pretty sad looking fellow. The only luck he seemed to have was bad luck. I think I have known people like that — always gloomy — always "woe is me."
Obviously, life is not always sunshine and roses. Into every life some rain must fall, and our Lord never promised a life free of pain and sorrow. But what we do with our misfortunes makes all the difference in the kind of life we have.
Consider Paul's situation as he spent day after day in a prison cell—probably the Mamartine Prison in Rome. His cell was a dungeon below the street, hewn out of rock, cold, damp and dark. And why was he in prison? For the crime of preaching Christ. And some of his "brethren" were trying to make things harder for him. But rather than feeling sorry for himself, he pointed out that his imprisonment was actually causing the gospel to be spread. "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).
I knew a young woman many years ago who suffered from crippling arthritis. Marian White was bound to a wheelchair, and could do little to take care of herself. But she had a cheerful disposition, and used her good mind to write children's Bible story books.
A close friend in Jamaica is a total invalid. Mahlon Mauta was paralyzed from the neck down in a fall years ago. He cannot even feed himself. His wife has abandoned him. We spend time with him on each trip to teach in Jamaica, and he always has a smile, and never complains. At times he has invited many neighbors over for a Bible study.
My brother-in-law, John Iverson, is 94 years old and confined to an assisted living home. He lives in pain. But you would never know it from his cheerful attitude. And he regularly has Bible studies with young people who come to his room.
Myrtle lived in a convalescent room for 25 years. She was blind, nearly deaf, and suffering from disfiguring facial cancer. What did she do with her time? She sang spiritual songs. She thought about Jesus. "I think about how good he's been to me."
Now back to Paul. How could he rejoice in his situation? "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).
It's all in the attitude of the heart! In many respects, life is what we make of it, not what it makes of us.