A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad the spirit is broken.
All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Lord, why do I always see the problems, dwell on the disappointments, get bogged down in the details? Why is it easier to complain and be blind to the "bright side" or the many ways you are at work? Why do I overlook the hundreds of little (and big!) graces you are bestowing day by day? Why is it a struggle to surrender and just have fun?
I know I've prayed about this so often ~ been praying about this for at least 20 years when I first discovered the tendency of my heart toward discouragement and sadness. You have answered and are so actively teaching me how to have joy ~ daily joy in my salvation ~ which is joy in all things, really. It's an encouragement that verses like this are sprinkled all throughout your Word, and that I am not alone in my struggle to rise above the despair of a fallen world. I do desire the "continual feast" of a cheerful heart still, Lord, and pray that You would not cease to transform me and complete me in this work of joy. Thank you for the book One Thousand Gifts that I can relate to so well, and for Ann Voskamp's honesty regarding her own struggle to choose joy and the little glimpses into her heart and mind that gets enraged by sibling rivalry and bogged down with getting dinner on the table, and yet wants to run after the beauty of You in the low hanging harvest moon. It is also the case with me ~ that I can be moved to joy and gratitude in worship of you so easily in one moment, and then in the next be crushed to despair by criticism, the attitude of a child, or the perceived slight of a friend. Please keep moving my heart, and the thoughts of my mind to Your graces, Your mercies, Your goodness all around me, and let holy hope prevail in my heart over despair. Amen.
Those are my requests for the new year ~ continued passion for building up my HOME, a wise and soothing TONGUE, apt and encouraging WORDS, and the continual feast of a JOYFUL HEART. I can only resolve to cooperate with the Holy Spirit's work in me in these areas, and trust Him for the transformation.