The Cheerful

“Is anyone among you cheerful? He is to sing praises.” James 5:13b
“Cheerful” is not a word that I usually associate with the Book of James. Wedged among the thorny warnings to “weep and howl” and to have “the patience of Job” is this beautifully scented word. In a world filled with the thorns of challenges, chaos, confusion, and critics, the church produces the rose of cheerfulness.
Cheerfulness is one part goodness, and one part passion. Christian cheerfulness joins together the power of heat, fierceness and rage and with goodness converts them into courageous passion marked by an expression of joy.
Cheerfulness is your heart enflamed with the courage to overcome. When you are cheerful, you stay in the battle with a smile on your face and the will to win in your heart. In every sense of the word, it describes “The Happy Warrior.”
I married a cheerleader. Marrying Dana has proven to be a wise move on so many levels. When she put down her megaphone, she kept on cheering. I am grateful for her cheerful life, and encouraging words. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Cheerleaders have drifted a long way from the original intention of their initial invention. Their purpose was to inflame the crowd to raise their voices and shout their encouragement to the men engaged in the contest on the field. If the crowd roared loud enough it would intimidate their opponent and invigorate their home team.  Sic Em Bears!
Cheerfulness is God’s gift to a discouraged church or a disheartened Christian. If you have it in your heart, praise God! Praise shouts out of your mouth what is in your heart. Praise is not a personal and private possession. Cheerfulness in your heart is a gift from God. Someone needs to hear it come out of your mouth.
Genuine praise and believing prayer play on the same team. They are inseparable friends, and their bond is forged by the trials of fire that come from a contest against a relentless enemy. Where you find one, you will find the other.
Recently I completed a four-week road trip, by driving across Michigan, and Indiana to catch a flight out of Chicago O’Hare to be able to reach my home in Fort Worth, Texas by midnight. I needed a GPS just to write that sentence. I was ready to go home, but the road was filled with rush hour traffic, unfamiliar signage, and unmerging angry motorists.
By the time I turned in my rental car, I was exhausted. I patted down my coat, and pant’s pockets and my phone was missing. I had been talking to Dana just before I pulled into Hertz, but somehow I was now separated from phone. Stress!
While the man with the little computer quizzed me in heavily accented English, I desperately searched the car for my phone, and gathered my luggage. It was a very small car, and yet, in the dark parking garage I could not find it. The man left after handing me my receipt, and standing there, all alone, by the car, I found myself saying out loud, “Really? This is how this trip is going to end?”  It was not exactly praise, but it might have been a prayer. I am not sure. Don’t judge me, but you make the call.
I took one more stab at finding my phone, and there it was! Wedged tightly between the seats, I could barely pull it out. It couldn’t have been any harder to pull out, if I had hammered it into the crease. I was so relieved. I almost praised God. Don’t judge me.
I grabbed my suitcase, and I took off.  In a flash, I realized I had left my briefcase in the car. At this point, I need to remind you, Dana wasn’t with me. I was dissolving into a heat rash of residual road rage, and low blood sugar. I grabbed my case, and took off to grab hold of the shuttle and enter the belly of the beast of baggage check-in, and the TSA security of Chicago O’Hare.
When I got to the ticket counter, I was pointed to Martin. He had just arrived on the job, and I was his first customer. He asked me the typical questions, and then surprised me by saying, “Do you believe in God?”  He had been looking at my wedding ring. It has a Hebrew inscription, and he read it aloud, and then said, “I have been studying the cosmos, and I don’t believe it was an accident. What do you think?” I told him, “I believe God is The Creator.” His eyes widened and with an excited voice, he said, “I do too!” 
What followed was a fascinating conversation with Martin over life and death. He had recently buried his mother, and was stunned not by the face of death, but the gift of life. He looked at the restless line of weary travellers, and said, “I know I need to get to them, but I need to tell you what I have been learning about God.” I listened, and when I had to finally leave, I said, “Martin, God knows your heart, and He hears your voice when you call to Him.” He said, “Do your really think so?” I said, “You can count on it. Talk to Him and He will hear you.” We shook hands and I moved on down the road, leaving Marin in God’s capable hands.
Note to Self: Often frustrating experiences and irritating people in life can get you down. Receive them as God’s little road signs to guide you to someone else He wants you to meet and to cheer up. If you had negotiated Chicago traffic with seamless precision, and gathered your belongings without a hitch, you would have missed Martin. You are here on earth to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. You are not here on earth to make your way through it, without interruptions and Divine Appointments. Cheer up! God will make a way even when you get in the way. The earlier you see God’s road signs, and follow them to people seeking Him, the more cheerful you will be. Cheer up! TALK LESS! PRAY MORE.