I once met a lady who had suffered a great tragedy, and it showed in her every move, her every facial expression. When in her presence, you could literally feel the weight of her sorrow.
No doubt, what she suffered was horrendous, but many years later, this event was still a terrible burden which wore on her spirit.
Contrary to that, my maternal grandmother, Grandma Stroud, suffered debilitating pain in her back and legs, and had several back surgeries, but I guarantee you’d never met a more joyful woman. By the last decade of her life she’d lost her husband, her little brother, her parents and many family members, yet made it her goal to laugh. She was only five feet tall, and was a little ball of sunshine to all who knew her.
“Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear, she smiles when she thinks about the future (Proverbs 31:25).”
This is not easy, I know. The tattoo on my right upper bicep (and on my daughter’s calf) says, “No fear of the future, no regrets of the past.”
Granted, this is a mindset which is hard to attain, and even harder to maintain. It’s a goal both she and I strive for every day. I’m closer to it than I was a year ago, but not as adept as I will be in a year.
It’s totally doable, though. I know this because I’ve witnessed the joyful faces of those who have gone through terrible agony. There is a terrible sadness, hidden away, which has forever altered their lives.
But not destroyed them.
I want to carry the type of spirit which says, “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’m trusting in God, and I know He has the entire future in His more-than-capable hands. The sands of time will shift, but the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Churches don’t sing hymns much anymore, but we did when I was a kid. “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow” was one of my favorites:
“I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand”
I know times are hard. Even the Apostle Paul said times would be tough in the end:
“Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people (2 Timothy 3:1-5).”
Man, does that describe the world today or what?
But if you are following the One who holds tomorrow, you can smile. Laugh, even. Crazy, right?
So follow the advice of that great theologian, Han Solo, who said, “Laugh it up, fuzzball.”
(quick pause for smattering of laughter)
This is my prayer, and I hope it’s yours as well:
“Lord, give me the type of spirit that laughs in the face of heartache, smiles in the face of danger and rejoices in times of trouble. For I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.”