by Jefferson David Tant
Among the many things Jamaica is known for are the many little song ditties. In working there for over 30 years, my wife and I have come to learn and enjoy them. One that we enjoy and that is often sung after the closing prayer of a church service is “Smile a While.” The words go:
“Smile a while and give your face a rest.
Raise your hand to the one you love the best.
Then shake hands with those near by,
And greet them with a smile. “
Think about it. Wouldn’t the world be a better place and wouldn’t we all be happier if we put in practice the words of that little song. We live in a world of chaos, fighting, and hatred, and as the voice of The Shadow on the radio show said, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”
Is there a solution to all this sadness and distress? Does God have anything to say that will help us to change the focus of those who are down in the dumps and distraught, who only see doom and gloom? He certainly does, so let’s give some thought to what the Scriptures have to say that can help us to see the sunshine more than the rain.
Consider Solomon’s words of wisdom concerning happiness: “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast" (Proverbs 3:13-18).
What is the source of Solomon’s wisdom and understanding? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever" (Psalms 111:10). By reading and meditating on the Word of God we can have an understanding of how to handle the disappointments and frustrations that exist in the world as we prepare for the land where there is no night.
Certainly, the world’s troubles we see and the civil discord and violence all around us, but they need not conquer us. Jeremiah gives some good advice on this. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
We know the expression “worrywart,” which describes those who worry all the time. Christ shared some wisdom with us about that.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:25-34).
This does not mean we should not prepare for tomorrow, but if we just spend our time wringing our hands and worrying about tomorrow, that can lead to despair and just “giving up.” I would suppose that if anyone had the right to be in a state of worry and discouragement, it would have been the apostle Paul. Consider what he wrote, probably from a Roman prison cell, which certainly was not a pleasant place to be. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).
Solomon’s advice to a young man is also good for the old folks as well. “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting" (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10).
Here are some final thoughts.
- “Count your many blessings. Name them one by one,” as one of our songs suggests.
- Don’t harbor hatred in your heart, but practice love. “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:18).
- Practice contentment as Paul advised from his prison cell. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Philippians 4:11).
- Be diligent in preparing for the future. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal"(Matthew 6:19-20).
- “Smile a while, and give yourself a rest.” Did you ever see people frown at a baby who smiled at them? I don’t think so. Christ has told us that we can learn from little children. If we smile more than we frown, it will be good. “And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:2-3).