There are two directions to
face in life. The one of these directions we choose to
face and do face will determine to a large extent the
happiness or lack of happiness in our lives. If we face
westward we face the sunset. This means facing the
fading light. This means the passing away of things. It
means the coming of darkness. This is a changing world;
life is ever chang ing. Many of the things that are dear
to us pass away. If we face these things as we face the
sunset, darkness and gloom will settle upon us. We shall
look upon fading hopes; we shall see the places of
missing friends; of blessings passed away. Facing this
way in life tends to bring melancholy and sadness.
It is better to
face the sunrise. Even in the darkness we may face the
east with the assurance that dawn will presently come.
There shall be new friends for the old friends that are
gone. There shall be new hopes for the perished hopes.
There shall be new opportunities instead of the vanished
ones. Let us resolutely look away from the sunset to
where the dawn shall break again and the glorious light
shine anew upon us.
sunrise must be learned. The natural tendency,
especially with very many, is to face the sunset. It is
the hopeful Christian who is the joyous Christian. He
looks ahead for better things. He is not disappointed.
The good things are never all in the past. The things
that have been lost may be replaced. What the future
brings us will in a great measure depend upon the way we
meet it, the outlook we have toward it, and the faith
with which we respond to it.
Let us change
the figure somewhat. We should always face the light.
When we face away from the light we walk in our own
shadow. When we turn about and face the light the
shadows are behind us. We need not wall; in the shadows.
It is our privilege to walk toward the light, to walk in
the light, not in the darkness. Jesus said we should
have the light of life and that we should not walk in
darkness. There is a way therefore, if we shall find it,
to have our pathway illuminated and our steps made sure.
There is great value in the forward looking attitude.
One writer has said, "It is worth a thousand pounds a
year to have the habit of looking on the bright side of
things.'' Note that he calls it a habit. It is just
that. We can cultivate good habits as well as cultivate
bad habits. We should deliberately assume the task of
cultivating the habit of looking on the bright side of
To look on the
bright side of life we must have the right sort of
ideals. High ideals are a great inspiration. The
momentum imparted to the soul by great ideals will carry
it through many places of difficulty and will raise it
above many of the obstacles of life.
The power of the
ideal has been thus expressed, "Our ideals find us where
we are; they carry us where we ought to be." Ideals,
even if we never reach them, put a zest and vigor in
life that it can have from no other source. Ideals help
us to make the best that can be made of ourselves.
Through ideals we aim high, we strive earnestly. In
contemplation of such ideals we lose sight of many
things in life that we are the better for having lost
One writer has
said, "The best way to correct imperfection in ourselves
and in others is constantly to emphasize ideals instead
of punishing faults." There are 80 many people who
condemn themselves and feel that they ought to punish
themselves for their faults. Just recently I had a
letter, a part of which I will quote, to illustrate the
attitude toward life and toward themselves many people
have: "I cannot understand why it is that I cannot get
complete victory. Perhaps it is self-condemnation. I am
wondering if I do not enjoy condemning myself because I
somehow think by going over all the ugly past and saying
to myself, 'What if God won't forgive you, or maybe God
won't forgive, etc.' I punish myself a little more and
perhaps God wil] take pity on me."
is no part of God's plan for us.. It in no way makes us
more acceptable to him. It is, however, a great
hindrance to us. The Psalmist had learned his lesson. He
said, "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up
late, to eat the bread of sorrows" (Ps. 127: 2). The
priests of Baal tried to gain the favor of their God by
cutting themselves and otherwise punishing themselves.
God's approval is not won in this way. He would have us
trust in his mercy, look to the sunshine of his love,
face away from the shadows toward the light. We should
emphasize our ideals and reach forward to them,
forgetting those things that are behind. Sometimes
people start in life with high ideals, but as the years
go on they lose these high ideals. Then the high hopes
that went with those high ideals fade. People become
disillusioned as to life or rather they come to look
upon its sordid and unlovely side and forget that it has
a better side. Their minds become obscured to those
higher things that once inspired them. We should beware
of permitting such things to take place. We should allow
nothing to lower our ideals or make us forget them. The
pure always remains pure. The good is always good.
Realities do not change. Our point of view may become
wrong. We may come to face in the wrong direction. But
the realities remain as they were. Youth is naturally
idealistic. We should carefully preserve that idealistic
outlook of youth and keep young in spirit. Years ago I
observed people becoming old before their time, losing
their ideals, becoming pessimistic. I resolved I should
never become old. I said to myself, "My body may get
old, my hair may grow white, but my spirit shall never
I was struck by
the tone of a letter I received recently. The writer of
it was telling her troubles. In it she said, "I am an
old woman. I am fifty-four years old." It is tragic that
one should view life thus. Old at fifty-four; think of
I know people
who are young at eighty-five. Their hearts are young.
Their outlook is young. Their idealism has not
diminished. The way to keep young is to keep interested
in life. However, the merely young outlook on life and
the mere feeling of youthfulness does not assure a
proper youthfulness. Youth is tuneful, but there is a
great difference between the song of victorious
youthfulness and the song of vicious youth. The song of
victorious youth is the song of idealism. The song of
vicious youth is the song of corruption and approaching
decay. The song of victorious youth is the song of
eternal youth, but the song of vicious youth is the song
of aging,, decay, and death. Vicious youth faces the
sunset. Victorious youth faces the sunrise.
A bright sunrise
may be succeeded by a cloudy day. It is important that
we know how to have sunshine on these cloudy days. There
is just one way to do it. That is faith's way. Faith
runs a shaft up through the clouds and lets the sunshine
come down on the heart. In the natural world there is
plenty of sunshine just above the clouds on the
cloudiest day. In life there is likewise plenty of
sunshine if through faith we rise above the clouds or if
we pierce them and let the sunshine through.
Or faith may
work in another way. There may be some things in life of
such a nature that we cannot bring them into the
sunshine. There is one thing we can do. We can put up a
reflector to throw light into the dark places of life.
In a recent report of the Director of the Budget of the
United States government the story was told of a
government employee who was trying hard to save expense
for the government. He told how he had placed a mirror
in such a manner that it would reflect light from one
room into another and thus save the expense of a light
in one room. Perhaps this was not a great saving, but it
showed the right attitude. There are often places in
life that we cannot light directly. We should learn how
to reflect light from the lighted places of life and
from the glorious goodness of God into those dark places
and illuminate them, if not directly, then indirectly so
that they may be lighted. Perhaps you have not thought
of using this method. Try it. It is well worth learning.
There are many
sunbeams in life that we do not see. This is because we
have our attention so focused upon things that trouble
us that we do not observe the sunbeams. God's sunbeams
are ever breaking through the clouds but often we shall
not see them unless we look for them and look for them
with the right attitude of heart. Maclaren says, "The
secret of finding sunbeams in everything is simply
letting God have his own way, and making your will the
sounding board and echo of his." Yes, that is the real
motive of joyful Christian life. It is to let God have
his way without any reluctance or hesitation on our
part. This is one of the greatest secrets of the singing
heart. God's will, when gladly submitted to, is always
joyous to us. We rejoice to have his will done. It is
shrinking from his will that causes the hurt and stills
A very needful
thing in life is that we cultivate a sense of humor.
There are many interesting and stimulating things in
life if we can see them. We need a safety valve. The
faculty of mirth is given us as a safety valve.
Sometimes tears have a good purpose in life and serve us
well, but in general it is better to laugh over our
troubles than to cry over them. The results physically,
mentally, and spiritually will be better. Through a
sense of humor we can sheer off many of the hard,
troublesome things of life. What we cannot sheer off we
can make easier to bear. Many a person has kept up
courage, faith, and determination through a good laugh
and has broken the spell of defeat. I do not refer to a
laugh of foolishness, but to wholesome mirth.
and playfulness are all divinely created to serve God's
purpose in us, to balance the pain, the heartaches, and
the tears that assuredly will come also. The smiling
countenance, the sparkling eye, the joyful laugh, go far
to add spice to life. They not only come from sunshine
in the heart but they produce more sunshine therein and
sunshine all about one. If we are inclined to be
melancholy and troubled, moody, and heavy hearted, we
need to set up a balance by filling the other side of
the scales with the joyous things that may be ours if we
shall make life surrender to us its treasures that lift
and cheer. It has such treasures for us all, but
sometimes we have to demand them before we receive them.
When I need
things in my work I fill out a requisition for them and
send it to the proper place. Things are in stock but
they do not come to me until I ask for them. No doubt
many of our blessings grow shelf worn waiting for us to
seek them. James said, "Ye have not, because ye ask not"
(chap. 4: 2). Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given
you; seek and ye shall find." We should ask and seek of
God, of life, of circumstances till we are enriched with
joy and peace and true happiness.
It is our right
to be happy. We owe it to ourselves and life owes it to
us that we be happy. Life will pay us all it owes us if
we give it a fair chance. But to receive what is ours we
must face the sunrise where these things are, not the
sunset where they are not found.