As I prepared this week to preach a message on “Rejoice – or Bah, Humbug” at the senior center this Sunday, I got to thinking (a bit guiltily) how ‘unjoyful’ and grumpy I usually am. I’ve lived much of my adult life with my glass perennially half empty. So the accusation settled on my shoulder challenging me: Who are you to tell others how to rejoice in Christ?
But then I thought, God’s word is true regardless of how I apply it. His truth is not based on MY experience. His word is true simply and only because He said it. Therefore, the reason I’m grumpy and my glass is half empty is because I have neglected, and continue to neglect, an attitude of gratitude and a practice of Biblical principles.
So as I prepared my message I pondered how I might fix my problem, and the answer came to me in a challenge, a challenge I will also use to conclude me sermon this Sunday.
Every evening before turning out the lights I will log into a journal all the GOOD things that happened to me and Nancy during that day. I will not include anything bad in the journal unless by the end of the day it clearly turned out for good.
I am inclined to think that when I focus on the GOOD things God brings into my life instead of my problems, the level of my half-filled glass will get higher.
Some of you may remember these lyrics from the song, Count Your Blessing, by Johnson Oatman: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
This is not a psychological mind-game I am talking about here. The concept of focusing on the positive instead of the negative is firmly grounded in Scripture. That’s why, for example, St. Paul wrote:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things . . . and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). And the psalmist wrote: I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works. (Psalm 145:5).
No, this is not a mind-game. Rather, it simply puts into practice what God’s word tells us to do if we want a reason to rejoice in this life. And as the years zip past I am increasingly aware life is way too short to keep a half-empty glass. Don’t you think?