All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
It seems here that the proverb is not contrasting those who are afflicted and those who have good things happening to them; rather, it is between those who live feeling afflicted and those who live counting their blessings.
Every life has its share of affliction and blessings. The question for us is which of the two we will focus on. Though some people do live under worse afflictions than others, I’ve never been able to detect a pattern among people in general that connects the amount of suffering with a person’s outlook on life. I’ve seen people mortally ill in great pain who are cheerful and thankful to God; and I’ve seen people in good health with much going for them and yet are continually downcast.
For most of these people, their unhappiness and happiness are choices they have made. For some, depression has become an affliction itself, unexplainable even to them. Even so, the decision to deal with depression becomes a choice to make. One must choose to get the help needed. You may not be able to choose what feelings you have, but you can choose what feelings you should have and take steps toward achieving them.
The Bible says “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Whatever our prayer, start with thanksgiving. That alone will help orient our thoughts and feelings, as we recall before God his goodness to us. If we are in Christ, we should daily give thanks for our salvation, remembering this gift that is above all afflictions we might endure in this life. Thus Paul, who could claim the prize of most afflicted, could write, “this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
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