Something to Smile About: Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

Something to Smile About: Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

 

When I think of my father, which I do every day, I picture him always with a soft, warm, close-lipped smile. Those who were closest to him do the same. In fact, I truly cannot recall a time when he was red-faced with anger. Of course there were times when he was sad or frustrated, but they didn’t last long; his smile was always near the surface, ready to rise in his eyes like the breaking day.

My dad was a very strong man. He was a former college football player (a lineman), from a family of football players, and lifted weights all of his life. In fact, he’s the one who first introduced me to fitness and athletics by teaching me how to swing a racquet, dribble a basketball, bench press, and even barbell curl. (I still remember how proud I was – and how proud he was! – when I curled the 10-pound dumbbells for the first time!)

But far surpassing my father’s physical strength was his mental and spiritual fortitude. He didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve but instead faced every challenge and difficulty, no matter their size, with equanimity, integrity, and admirable aplomb. And he never let any situation suppress his infectious smile.

Hours before he died, my dad had printed out and brought home the lyrics to the famous Charlie Chaplin song, “Smile.” You’ll probably recognize the lyrics:

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just
Smile

The first stanza was pointed to with an arrow drawn by my dad.

We won’t know until we meet him in Heaven again why he left those lyrics. One could question whether he might’ve known his time was short, perhaps even on a subconscious level. Others, like myself, might consider the possibility that the piece of spirit-lifting paper was inserted into the stack after his departure. God has, after all, allowed crazier things. But no matter the details, the fact remains that smiling was very much a part of who my dad was, and, might I add, who he is as one of the “just men made perfect” in Heaven with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.[1] He loved to laugh and to make others laugh with his “punny” jokes of the day.

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As the world grows darker, my dad’s legacy of joy is one I thank God for daily. Knowing his time is short, Satan is on a rampage to steal our joy, destroy our peace, and rob us of hope. But we mustn’t let him. Even if it’s just with a simple smile when we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, or when we shudder at the evening news, maintaining our joy in the face of evil is paramount. It tells our enemies, those seen and unseen, that we are unbreakable and immovable. Not because we are stalwart beings composed of steel – we’re certainly not – but because we stand on the Rock of Ages, the King of Kings, the Lord or Lords, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Prince of Peace who came once as a Suffering Servant but will come again as a Conquering King!

Every single prophecy about Jesus’ life as the lowly Nazarene came to fruition with one-hundred percent accuracy. The prophecies regarding His imminent return are unfolding just as precisely. I don’t know about you, but the more I study His Word and see headlines lining up with ancient predictions, the more excited and less fearful I become.

Jesus said that when we begin to see end-time events taking place, we’re to “stand up and lift up [our] heads, because [our] redemption is drawing near.”[2]

How can we help but smile at the thought of that?

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[1] Hebrews 12:23

[2] Luke 21:28, NIV

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