A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13
I piled groceries in my car and carefully exited my parking spot. Suddenly a man darted across the pavement just in front of me, not noticing my approach. I slammed on my brakes, just missing him. Startled, he looked up and met my gaze. In that moment, I knew I had a choice: respond with rolled-eye frustration or offer a smiling forgiveness. I smiled.
Relief flickered across his face, raising the edges of his own lips in gratefulness.
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Is the writer directing us to cheery grins in the face of every interruption, disappointment, and inconvenience life brings? Surely not! There are times for genuine mourning, despair, and even anger at injustice. But in our everyday moments, a smile can offer relief, hope, and the grace needed to continue.
Perhaps the point of the proverb is that a smile naturally results from the condition of our inner beings. A “happy heart” is at peace, content, and yielded to God’s best. With such a heart, happy from the inside out, we can respond to surprising circumstances with a genuine smile, inviting others to embrace the hope and peace they too can experience with God.
In today’s reading we see the dynamic impact of a happy heart. It is interesting to note that our attitude toward our circumstances—not our situation—is the key issue. A wise person seeks out knowledge, which builds positive character rather than feeding (literally “grazing like cattle”) on those things that lead to foolishness. The oppressed are those who are bowed down or in great need, which can cause emotional turmoil. But we also see in verse 15 how those who are cheerful have a continual feast. The one who focuses on the God of compassion finds hope in difficult situations and also helps others to have hope.
Are you struggling today? Ask God to help you focus on Him with a joyful attitude.