A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
This proverb can be taken as both descriptive and prescriptive. It describes the effect of the heart on the outer being and welfare of its owner. A glad heart cheers up the face and the spirit. It promotes well being. Sorrow, on the other hand, crushes the spirit, makes the face downcast, and adversely affects a person’s health. We can read the same information in scientific studies.
The proverb is also, then, prescribing what is good for us. It is good for us to be cheerful. We cannot manufacture cheer, but we can choose to focus on what is encouraging rather than what weighes us down. We can be guilty of dwelling on our failures and losses, refusing to acknowledge the blessings that God has given. We can be guilty of focusing on the negative – what is wrong with others and bothersome in our lives – rather than looking for the good. We can choose cynicism over observing what is good. We can even choose feeling bad about ourselves because we are not cheerful!
There is a time and place for both gladness and sorrow. We should certainly grieve over our sin, and we are to grieve over loss, but godly sorrow over sin should lead to repentance and thankfulness for the forgiveness we have in Christ. And grief over loss or misfortune should drive us to the comfort provided by Christ and the Holy Spirit. Dwelling in continuous sorrow, indulging in depression is but to stiff-arm your Savior and Comforter. It keeps you from having a glad heart that gladdens the sorrowful heart of a friend in need.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org