A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (NIV)
The tradition at my last church was for four deacons to sit at the front of the church during communion, two on either side of the pastor. Two deacons would pray before the bread and wine were served by all four. The almost complete lack of happy faces in the congregation always surprised me when I sat at the front of the church at communion time. I don’t think I ever counted more than six happy faces out of up to 100 people taking communion.
Happy about Communion?
You could ask what there is to be happy about during communion? After all shouldn’t we come to the communion meal filled with remorse and seeking forgiveness? I don’t dispute the need for remorse, but Jesus died once to pay the price for all of the sin in every human life. I am truly remorseful when I let Him down, but having surrendered my life to Him I rejoice that I am forgiven. Consequently, I find myself overwhelmed by happiness at communion time. There may well be tears running down my face, but they are tears of joy at the huge relief I know because of my redemption. Because Jesus died I have a happy heart. One that should make my face cheerful not only during communion, but all day every day.
It is not easy to maintain a cheerful face all day long. The circumstances of life conspire to steal our happiness and crush our spirits. We have all been there, sometimes to the point that we even question our faith. It troubles me that so often we are oblivious to some of the crushed spirits around us. Some of the non-smiling faces we encounter may truly be in a place where there is nothing to smile about. How can we stand with family, friends, colleagues, folk at church, etc., at such times?
Sometimes only God knows, and sometimes He brings people into our lives at a particular time on a particular day because He knows. I can think of times in my life like this, and there are times I know that He has used me to meet the needs of others. That’s when I really smile. I smile because it reminds me that God cares. God cares about crushed spirits because He just can’t stop loving us. No matter what.
And that is a reason to be cheerful.