This is probably the cloudiest time in human history. I don't mean the clouds associated with climate change but the kind of clouds that bring a gloom to the human heart. It strikes me as very odd indeed that in the era of the most highly educated and enlightened people in all history, the best solutions they can offer to this growing cloudy gloom only attempt to address the symptoms and not its cause. If you feel like your head, heart, and soul are cloudy, I would like to offer an ancient time-tested and proven solution.
As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19
People hide their clouds. It requires the wearing of masks. Masks can look like a smile, a laugh, fresh make-up, a new set of clothes, busy-ness, or new toys. But masks do not rid anyone of their clouds. Many people confuse their cloud-symptoms (sadness, worry, insecurity, embarrassment, tiredness) with cause of the cloudiness. Consequently they believe their ache is alleviated by fulfilling their quest to be happy. In fact, in this cloudiest time in history it seems that many younger people have been lured to believe that happiness is the goal to life. Most alarmingly is the way young Christians now mingle the pursuit of happiness with God's will for their lives.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.Matthew 5:30
In past few weeks I have been saddened by several Christians justifying their unbiblical choices with the defence, "God wouldn't want me to be unhappy." Was Jesus always happy? Did Jesus teach that our happiness was the ultimate goal for our lives? Could it be that following Christ might have to be done in adverse circumstances which naturally are not conducive to our happiness? Based on what we read in Scripture, can we conclude that God wouldn't ever want us to endure unhappiness?
Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
Happiness has become an idol for many people. This false god might offer fleeting pleasure, but it comes with an eternal price-tag. It fills its worshipers with lust and the delusion that satisfying this illegitimate lust is integral to their true identity. Worshiping this false god will always bring clouds to a person's heart, mind and soul. It's important for the follower of Jesus to understand that God's will and desire for you is to be saved and holy - and this may mean temporary unhappiness due to the sacrifices which have to be made to follow Christ. You could therefore be living the most virtuous life in following Christ and not be happy all the time. But because holiness through knowing and beholding God in His Word is the goal of life, this doesn't trouble the believer like it does the worshipers of Happiness. Sadly, sometimes it's too late for many idol worshipers of Happiness to realise that their idol does not, cannot, has not, will not, ever delivered true, lasting, soul-soothing, abiding happiness. This kind of happiness and cloud-clearing can only come from seeking first God and His Kingdom in our lives (Matthew 6:33). This is why the true believer gladly worships Jesus and follows Him faithfully through whatever cloudy storms and difficulties life may force us to endure. When John Sammis realised this, he wrote that it was the smile of Jesus toward a trusting obedient child of God that would quickly drive away all clouds...
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we'll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
If you want to know the secret to having personal clouds driven away, you'll discover what John Henry Sammis did over a century ago: it's in bringing a smile to Jesus. Sammis shares a profound Biblical insight into how this canb be done in his famous hymn - "Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but His smile quickly drives it away; not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, can abide while we trust and obey."
We ask you to forgive us for when we have not trusted or obeyed You. Forgive us for pursuing things, pleasures, relationships or achievements instead of seeking You. Help us to grow our trust in You through a growing knowledge of Your Word. Help us to trust You in the midst of life's storms and near over-whelming disappointments. Lord, help us to obey You - to avoid what You forbid, even though we crave it - and to do what You require of us, even though we lack the courage to do it. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.