“If God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it.” | Pollyanna
I love the movie, Pollyanna. Pollyanna’s example of trying to find the good in people and in situations is a character quality that we should aspire to replicate. Her joyful attitude was contagious to those around her. Philippians 4:4 reminds us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” The act of being glad and rejoicing doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It is much easier to whine and complain about our circumstances, much like in the movie, “Brimstone and Damnation on top of ham and eggs!” But what if we were to take the “Pollyanna” approach to life? Would we be as contagiously joyful as Pollyanna? As believers, we are to be joyful no matter what. By joyful, I mean, thankful…seeing the good in the midst of trials. Not that we should be bouncing off the walls with gleeful excitement that we are going through difficult times, but determined to see how the Lord can work in any situation we face. When our circumstances are to our liking, it is easy to praise the Lord. When things get tough, however, that is the true test of finding joy and contentment in the Lord.
We often shake our fists (so to speak) at God when our circumstances are tough, and say, “Why are you allowing this?” “Don’t You love me?” Yes, He does love you. That is why He allows us to walk through rough patches in order to refine us, and to remind us to be content in His will alone. Jesus Christ, Who is our ultimate example, had to pay the penalty for our sin and yet, He knew that through His death and resurrection, He would give everyone the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. Jesus found the good in the bleak situation. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed.
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”John 17:1-4
He knew that this horrible experience would grant eternal life to those who choose to believe in Him. We have that amazing gift because He had mercy on us. If we think we have nothing else to praise Him for (which we have a multitude), that reason alone should make us joyful! Jesus Christ faced the ultimate trial, but He still praised God.
So, how can we play the Glad Game like in Pollyanna? It is simple, but not easy. My flesh is prone to complain and if left to my own devices, I see the glass as half-empty. However, if I heed the Holy Spirit’s leading, it is much easier to find the good in my circumstances. For instance, this current pandemic has left most of us unable to go out and about unless to the grocery store. We are constantly bombarded with a total lack of patience and grace since we are stuck in the house 24/7 with family members. Apathy can settle in our hearts quickly, and soon we find ourselves drifting away from the Lord.
In these times of frustration, God gives us the opportunity to increase our love for our family members and love for His saints. Asking the Lord to increase your love for those with whom you live is a wonderful way to see His power through your difficult situations. It is a request that He is always ready to answer but it also means that we will have to give up our selfishness in order to deepen that love. Sometimes you have to ask multiple times an hour. It seems there are times when I need to pray to be faithful and keep my testimony every five minutes!
I have to ask the Lord daily to renew my eyes and mind to see His hand in every circumstance. You can hear Him in the birds chirping, see Him in the beauty of nature, and see His power in the thunderstorms. You can see His creative wisdom in each uniquely different snowflake, taste His goodness in home-cooked meals (with the exception of liver and onions), and you can see His love in the kindness of others. We can find good in the long checkout lines at the grocery store, in the driver who cuts you off on the highway, in the person who insults you on social media, in the flat tire, in leaky faucets, in the pandemic, etc. In Job 1:20-22, we read about Job worshipping the Lord after losing his family, riches, status in the community, and home. In verse 22 we are told that, “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Over and over again in the Scriptures, we are exhorted to praise the Lord…even in the midst of the darkest trials. Psalm 69:30 declares,
I will praise the name of God with a song,Psalm 69:30
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be known as a complainer or have others dread being around me because of a rotten attitude. I want to be known for my love for Christ, and for an ability to find the blessings in each situation. A practical application may be to stop complaining for 24 hours (you might ask a friend or family member to help hold you accountable). Not complaining will naturally lead to thankfulness. You could also keep note cards with the glad passages written on them. Elisabeth Elliot said, “What counts the most is our response to everything. It is not what happens to us, but how we respond and how we look to God for strength and guidance.”
We should constantly remind ourselves of the riches of His goodness! So, the next time you feel the urge to complain, try playing the glad game because after all, “There is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”