Ringing The Joy
Each of us has a large capacity for enjoyment. Some are
naturally more exuberant than others. Some are light-hearted
and cheerful. Others are sober and thoughtful. Some are
emotional. Some are unemotional. Some are inclined to look on
the bright side of things; others upon the dark side. But each
of us has within joy bells which may be made to peal out the
glad tidings of a joyful heart.
Sometimes these joy bells ring spontaneously, but very often
if they ring we must ring them. We must do something to cause
them to ring. Every life may hear their happy echoes, every
life may be joyous. If our life does not hold a considerable
content of joy it is because we permit it to become abnormal.
We permit things to silence the joy bells and we permit them
to hang silent in the belfries of our souls.
our other capacities our capacity for joy and gladness may be
developed and increased. It is important to have the will to
be joyful. "I mean to be happy" should be the motto of each of
us. There need be nothing selfish in such an attitude. It is
perfectly right and in complete harmony with God's will that
we hold such an attitude and that we use our best endeavors to
make it a reality in our lives.
Christian religion is not a long-faced, gloomy thing. It is
the greatest source of true happiness. We should set ourselves
the task of developing our capacity to be happy. We should not
be like a woman who once lived neighbor to my grandfather. She
constantly wore a sunbonnet that extended some inches before
her face. Asked why she did it she said she wore it lest she
should see something to make her laugh. A part of her idea of
being a Christian was refraining from laughter. Others, while
not so extreme, think it a mark of spirituality to be grave
and dignified and to shut out of life the things that would
make it bright, cheerful, and sappy.
I determined to be happy. I determined to be happy no matter
what happened and no matter what condition I might be in nor
what my circumstances might be. For twenty-one years I have
kept my bed a constant sufferer, but I am happy. I am happy
every day. I will not be any other way. I have had my
troubles, many of them. I shall probably have more. I have
learned that troubles do not make unhappiness. It is only a
wrong attitude toward trouble that does 80. I hope the reader
will pardon my referring to my own experience, but I have
passed through so many things and so much suffering and
trouble and yet have learned to be happy in spite of it that I
know others can do the same if they will. Many a time I have
had to pull hard on the rope of the joy bells to get them to
ring. I have kept on pulling until they pealed out their
joyous tones. Dear reader, you can do the same no matter what
the situation or surroundings, if you will go about it in the
people have unfavorable tendencies. They seem naturally
disposed to be easily discouraged or gloomy, looking on the
dark side. They are timid, sensitive, or unsociable. These
unfavorable natural tendencies should not be permitted to have
sway in the life. We should set ourselves resolutely to
overcome such tendencies. If we are inclined to become easily
discouraged we should cultivate hope. We should ask ourselves,
"What would be the hopeful attitude with regard to this?"
Having determined what it would be we should adopt it and hold
it no matter what the temptation is to do otherwise.
are inclined to be gloomy and to look on the dark side of
things let us compel ourselves to look on the bright side.
Perhaps we may feel there is no bright side, but there is
always a bright side to everything. If there is no naturally
bright side let us turn it up toward God and let the sunshine
of his love fall upon it. That will brighten any circumstance.
If we are inclined to be timid let us compel ourselves to do
the thing we ought to do or want to do. Let us not surrender
to our timidity. We can break through it and overcome it and
master it. If we give way to it its hold upon us becomes
firmer and firmer. If we do what we desire to do in spite of
it, it will cease to hinder us.
are inclined to be unsociable we should compel ourselves to
act in a sociable way whether we feel like it or not. We
should practice being friendly toward others. We should meet
them half way or beyond. If we act this out it will soon
become natural to us and bring us much satisfaction.
have spoken of the rope of the joy bells. Most bells do not
ring of themselves. We must ring them. So we must ring the joy
bells. Sometimes our joy bells seem like the old bell on a
farm where I once was. It stood on a tall pole. I wondered why
it was not rung to call the workers in from the field at noon.
When I came to the house I discovered there was no rope
attached to the bell.
cases the joy bells are like a bell on another farm where I
lived. It did not hang in the proper position because it was
not properly balanced. So when the wind would blow the bell
would ring night or day. Many a time I was awakened in the
night by its ringing. Some joy bells likewise ring only as
chance occurrences. They ring only under favorable conditions,
as a result of favorable circumstances. They are not
controlled. We need to attach a rope of faith to our joy bells
and through the exercise of this faith we can cause them to
ring. We can have an inner source of joy and peace that is not
disturbed by the storms of life, that does not depend upon
circumstances, but has its root and fountain deep in the
heart. We can be so hid away with Christ in God that the
storms will pass us by.
of years ago during the test of a submarine it stayed
submerged for many hours. When it had returned to the harbor a
man said to the commander, "Well, how did the storm affect you
last night?" The commander looked at him in surprise and said,
"Storm! We knew nothing of any storm!" They had been down far
enough below the surface not to feel any effect of the storm.
We can sink down into God from life's storms so they need not
keep the joy bells of our soul from ringing. We can be joyful
even in the midst of trouble.
once told me of his experience in an earthquake in a certain
city. He said when the buildings swayed and trembled all the
bells of the city began ringing. In life's earthquakes we may
so trust God that our joy bells will ring.
gives to us the gift of rejoicing. Jesus said he gave us his
peace, "That your joy may be full." Paul rejoiced in the midst
of his tribulations, "We are exceeding joyful in all our
tribulations." And he exhorted the Thessalonians to "rejoice
evermore." If we cannot rejoice in the things of the present,
in the realization of our hopes, we can at least rejoice in
hope of better things to come. Rejoicing in past victories and
in past blessings will often bring joy in spite of present
may be periods in life that are dark. Failure may cast its
shadows upon us. Discouragements may press us. If we look only
at the present we shall have a hard time to make the joy bells
ring. At such times we should look at our lives as a whole,
not at these temporary incidents. "Weeping may endure for a
night, but joy cometh in the morning." There is a morning
which shall dawn upon our darkest night. If we cannot rejoice
in ourselves in the present we can rejoice in God. We can
rejoice in the good things of the past and in the good things
that lie before us in the future.
truly and permanently happy people are those who have a source
of happiness too deep, or too high, to be seriously disturbed
by ordinary troubles. There spiritual balance which we can
attain that gives us stability and makes us like the anchored
buoy, rather than like the drifting object which is ever
tossed about the waves of circumstances. Faith is the anchor
of the soul. In fact faith is the greatest element in the life
of happiness and success. Those who have this inner source of
happiness do not depend upon daily events to make them happy.
They depend upon what they are, upon their relations with
God—those permanent characteristics of life that settle them,
root and ground them in Christ and in the Christian life. The
waves of trouble may pass over them but they are not swept
from their place.
taught us a valuable lesson when he said, "I have meat that ye
know not of." We may know what this means from personal
experience. We may be so submitted to God, so obedient to him,
and so trust in him that the joy bells may be kept ringing in
our lives and our souls be rejoicing evermore until we reach
that land of endless day where trouble and sorrow,
discouragements and suffering, never come. Learn, dear reader,
the blessed lesson how to ring your joy bells and how to
prevent them from being muffled by doubts and