Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rejoice or Sin!

Yesterday I picked up C.S.Lewis's book, "The Problem of Pain."  I had found it dull reading until my eyes read this and I nearly dropped the book:

"My own idea, for what it is worth, is that all sadness which is not either arising from the repentence of a concrete sin and hastening towards concrete amendment or restitution, or else arising from pity and hastening to active assistance, is simply bad; and I think we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to 'rejoice' as much as by anything else."

Some people say anger is okay--but only in a few situations. Outside of those anger is a sin.  Lewis is saying the same thing about sadness!  He says the only times God is pleased for us to be sad is if we are 1) actively repenting of a sin or 2) feeling pity for someone and hurrying to help them.  And both of those are temporary sadnesses.  All other sadness "is simply bad; and I think we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to 'rejoice' as much as by anything else."

That was shotgun blast of light to a melancholic like myself.  I didn't have the strength to read any more of Lewis after that sentence, so I went and grabbed my daily devotional book "Daily Strength for Daily Needs" the classic by Mary Tileston.  Let me reprint here the devotion for that day (January 18) and leave it to you to ponder.

Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee.
               -Deuteronomy 26:11

Rejoice evermore. . . . In every thing give thanks.
                -1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18

Grave on thy heart each past "red-letter day"!
Forget not all the sunshine of the way
By which the Lord hath led thee; answered prayers,
And joys unasked, strange blessings, lifted cares,
Grand promise-echoes! Thus thy life shall be
One record of His love and faithfulness to thee.
            -Frances Ridley Havergal

Gratitude consists in a watchful, minute attention to the particulars of our state, and to the multitude of GOd's gifts, taken one by one. It fills us with a consciousness that God loves and cares for us, even to the least event and smallest need of life. It is a blessed thought, that from our childhood God has been laying His fatherly hands upon us, and always in benediction; that even the strokes of His hands are blessings, and among the chiefest we have ever received...

When this feeling is awakened, the heart beats with a pulse of thankfulness. Every gift has its return of praise. It awakens an unceasing daily converse with our Father--He speaking to us by the descent of blessings, we to Him by the ascent of thanksgiving. And all our whole life is thereby drawn under the light of His countenance, and is filled with a gladness, serenity, and peace which only thankful hearts can know.
             -Henry Edward Manning

If you think of me, pray I would learn how to rejoice, even in trials!  -Daniel

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