Choose to Be Happy

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Psalms 77: 1-13 NIV

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated, and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this, I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God?


Alvie was a ninety-two-year-old man who had been my friend for eight years before he died.   He was a great listener, and I could trust his him.  He never once revealed anything I ever told him.  At times I would be discouraged, and he counseled, “When you get up in the morning you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad.”


I must admit it was hard advice to accept.  Sometimes I just wanted to sit in the dirt and pout.  At other times I felt it was justified.  But really, he was right.  I felt better if I just got up, brushed off the dust, and got going.


The Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”


King David was sitting in the dark thinking how miserable he was.  It appeared the God who had been so favorable in the past had deserted him.  He wondered if God would ever be helpful to him again.  The God who chose him as a king seemed angry with him.  He longed for God’s compassion and mercy.


I can relate to David’s night of self-pity.  Sometimes my mother gets her nights and days confused.  Like a new-born baby, she’ll want to be up at night and sleep in her chair during the day.  The body’s regular circadian clock is affected by dementia.   Because she is a fall risk, we have an alarm on her bed.  If she gets up during the night, it sounds in my room.  Even on the low setting, it will make me jump.


The alarm sounded seven times last night. She went to the bathroom about every hour.  Since she has a short-term memory of three or four minutes, she doesn’t remember going just a while earlier.  I’m sure she doesn’t really need to go to the bathroom that often.  Her record is fourteen trips in one night.  I can testify why sleep-deprivation-torture is effective.


Some nights I can’t get back to sleep.  That’s when I can relate to King David in this Psalm.  Everything seems worse at night.  I reflect on the time I could sleep all night without a single disruption.


Sometime during the long night, King David chose to be happy.  He concentrated on the times God was kind to him, and he decided to praise Him.  I find it to be helpful to do the same.  When you are going through tough times, glorify God.  Meditate on His goodness and rejoice in His future goodness and mercy.

© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn