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The First Thing I Noticed Was Your Smile

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” – C.S. Lewis

What do you think it takes to make life good? To make it sweet. Some years back I met a woman who had diabetes, a severe heart condition that caused her to have poor circulation and muscle cramps, and on top of that she had cancer. Three years before we met, her doctors had told her that she had just twelve months to live and there was nothing they could do. She was quite literally, always smiling, and her words were filled with love and encouragement. I loved seeing her and being around her. She lived each day in deep appreciation and hope and somehow, just being around her made you feel good. She was 68 when I first met her, and I had the great honor of speaking at her funeral when she was 79. If you do the math, she lived fourteen years after they pronounced a death sentence on her. When she would go to her doctors, they would tell her that she was literally a walking miracle. However, the true miracle was not that she lived so much longer than they predicted, but that she lived all of her days filled with an amazing joy.

Angst is a word of German origin that is translated today as: a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general. It seems that so many people today are filled with angst. Generally speaking, these people appear that they have every reason to be happy, but instead they are filled with anxiety and dread. In most cases they are physically healthy, have decent jobs, cars, houses, and lots of activities to occupy themselves, but they see life as unsatisfying and not sweet. A lot of them feel that they are vulnerable or are simply victims of a system controlled by chaos. They live with the grim expectation that something is about to go very, very wrong.

How do you trade angst for joy? I believe the issue is quite literally knowing who is in authority, who is in control, and who is calling the shots. If it is no one or if it is us, well that is pretty scary stuff. But what if instead it is a loving, caring, benevolent God? In Isaiah 9 it prophesies about the Messiah and says, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” When we live under His authority (government), we have peace. In Romans 14:17 it states, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. The kingdom of God is not speaking of an ethereal realm, but of a place where God rules and has authority. In other words, if the Lord is in authority over a person’s life, they find that they are in a state of goodness, where there is tranquility, and they are being filled with joy. There is a river whose streams make glad. Shalom.

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