"Be joyful always" (1 Thessalonians 5:16 NIV). "Be joyful in hope" (Romans 12:12 NIV). "Rejoice and be glad" (Matthew 5:12 NIV). "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4 NIV). Again, and again, and again God tells me to be joyful, cheerful, rejoicing. He tells me to give thanks no matter what is going on in my life (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV, Colossian 3:15 NIV, Psalm 100:4 NIV). Really?! No matter what is happening, I'm supposed to be joyful?! That's what Paul is saying when he wrote this to the church at Corinth. And it still applies today."Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." - 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
What Paul isn't saying is that I should always walk around with a great big, cheesy smile on my face. There are going to be times and circumstances that are going to rock my world. I am going to cry, grieve, be angry. As a believer, however, the joy of the Lord should still be inside me at all times. In Him I can find hope. By aiming for perfection, which is only found in Jesus, and knowing that God is with me no matter what my circumstances are, I can still find joy, the silver lining, in all things. I can be at peace with death, money troubles, heartache, pain, illness....with God's help. Psalm 31:24 NIV says this: "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord." He will see me through anything I have to face.
When I think of a grumpy Christian, I think of the comic strip 'Maxine". The sour face, sarcastic comments, her "woe is me...nothing ever goes right in my life" attitude. How absurd and sad is it to live like that? It's definitely not the way God desires me to live. And it's surely not the way to be a testimony for Him. I don't know about you, but when I come across a grumpy person, I want to turn tail and run in the other direction, as far away as possible. Being around someone like that can ruin a perfectly good day. They tend to bring you down to their level and you leave their presence feeling drained and exhausted. At least I do. I don't want people to leave my presence feeling that way. I want them to know that I trust my God to take care of me. I want them to see me facing my life with the courage and peace that can only come from faith in my amazing Savior.
I'm taking a good, long, hard look at myself today. Am I a grumpy Christian? Do I complain and whine about my life and troubles? Do I allow circumstances to rob me of the Lord's joy? Do I walk around with a "woe is me" attitude? Do I always think, "Why me, Lord?" when something unforeseen happens? Do I think there is anything in this world too big for God to handle? If I can answer any of these questions with a "yes", then there's some changing that needs to be done in my heart, my thoughts and my attitude. Because the Bible tells me, though the wording is a little different - No Grumpy Christians Allowed!!
"We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way." - Gloria Gaither
Amazing Lord, may I never be a grumpy, whiny Christian. Open my eyes and heart to the joy and peace that You bring into my life. May circumstances not rob me of my trust and faith in You. Fill me with Your courage and strength each day, to enjoy the good and face the bad that I encounter, knowing You are in charge and there is nothing You can't handle for me. Teach me what is means to be "joyful in hope". In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.