“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2, ESV).
Two wheelchairs passing in the hall, one carrying a broken shoulder, the other a fractured hip. We stop for them to greet, 91 and 89 years old, sweethearts for 63 years, still deeply in love, separated by rehab rooms. He reaches over to take her hand with an adoring smile. It’s difficult for him to get the words out but he pushes them through his lips, “Praise Christ.”
“Praise Christ,” he repeats and then tells her, “Keep the smile.” He kisses her hand, and I take him to his dinner while my sister takes his sweetheart to her room.
“Praise Christ. Keep the smile.” That’s good Bible, not unlike Paul’s admonition, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4, ESV).
We can say it. Can we believe it?
God has made us to be joyful—in Him.
And He has given us much to rejoice in. He has given us Himself. He has given us each other. He has freed us from the oppressive weight of our sin. He has given us forever, with Him and those we love.
Even in our trials, we can look forward with joy to the sweetness of God’s presence and thank Him for the chisel of life that He uses to fashion us into the likeness of His son. As the brother of Jesus put it, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, ESV).
My parents’ bodies are broken and their physical future looks grim, but my father was sincere, “Praise Christ. Keep the smile.”
Let me ever praise you and keep the smile.