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Monday, May 3, 2010

Miserly with Misery

Today's post is part of the Blog Carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley on the one word topic "Joy." Click the link for more great posts! :D

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Miserly with Misery

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven ...
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance ...
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (NKJV)

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
~ Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)

There is a time to permit sloppy emotions to spill onto those around us. When we rejoice with dancing and laughing, it is no time to be selfish. When we mourn a great loss, we should not attempt to carry the burden alone, but allow others to lovingly share it.

Then there is the time for everyday weeping. Affliction is a fact of life—a consequence of living in a sinful world which God promises to use for good.

And though misery may love company, the loving person will be miserly with misery rather than carelessly splattering it all over the place. Misery is best shared with those we trust to love and comfort us, who are strong enough to help us carry it rather than be infected with it, who are wise enough to dispel rather than duplicate it.

A good way to dispel misery is to adopt joy when it isn’t being birthed naturally.

The fourth chapter of Philippians is filled with uplifting words, written by Paul while he was imprisoned. Though in chains, Paul encouraged, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” He used the Greek verb chairo, meaning to be full of cheer, to be calmly happy, to rejoice.

Chairo is also expressed as the noun charis, translated quite simply as “grace.”

To adopt joy is to do no more than acknowledge with gratitude the great and many unearned and unmerited expressions of lovingkindness from benevolent Creator to us. It is to know when and how to share deep misery, and the ability to reach into our souls for much deeper contentment and instead share that with both God and fellow man.

Among the other words of encouragement Paul spoke from that prison were these:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)

My friends, amid affliction, I say to you from my own “much deeper contentment”—Rejoice!

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  1. Splash God's joy all over someone's life daily, love you sis.

  2. I like your thoughts on when and with whom to share our misery. How thankful I am that we can have God's peace instead of anxiety. Rejoice indeed!

  3. Again I say rejoice! (sounds like a song!)

  4. I do try to do this to the best of my abilities. I wonder how this factors in to grief? Are we expected to find joy in those moments as well? I look forward to your wisdom.

  5. Thank you for being a blessing Anne ... :-)

  6. Some very good thoughts ....

  7. Denise ~ I hope that's more splashing than slopping, LOL!

    Patty ~ I'm likewise grateful for peace. I think it undergirds joy, as faith undergirds hope.

    Glynn ~ Ah, yes! I love to sing, "Rejoice in the Lord Always and Again I Say Rejoice"—in rounds, of course!

    Russell ~ Always want to bless rather than curse or complain. It's a choice I think, and not always an easy one.

    Susan ~ Thank you, my dear. I couldn't quite work in the verse on thoughts without going too long, so I'll plug in yet one more passage from Philippians 4 right here:

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
    (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

  8. Rejoice! What a wonderful post, Anne. I've always loved that verse in Philippians.

  9. T ~

    I had grief in mind when I said "reach into our souls for much deeper contentment."

    I don't think our joy is always a laughing, dancing, happy joy. Times of grief, anger, suffering, etc. are part of the human experience, when such actions aren't feasible. But we can cling to the faith, hope and peace which are necessary to joy. We can choose to search out and express the gratitude which are inherent to joy.

    Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:8: "We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life." He describes the anguish of struggling against sin (1 Corinthians 7:15-24). He acknowledges it is a far better thing to leave his earthly body and be with Christ than remain in that prison (Philippians 1:23).

    All of these are sentiments that I experience on a regular basis. More often than I'd care to admit, they defeat me. If I choose to, I can wallow in them. If I turn to God, I can accept His comfort, be renewed in His strength, and once again "soar on wings like eagles."

    And while I wait upon Him for all that, I'll do my very best to be miserly with my temporary misery, and to express the enduring joy which is more definitive of who I am in Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God.

  10. Bridget ~ Thank you for your encouragement. And thank you for hosting the carnival. :D

  11. Being renewed in His strength as I read this.
    Thank you.
    ~ Wendy

  12. Phl 4:6-7...also one of my favorite verses.

    'be miserly with our misery'...thats wonderfully stated!

  13. T. Anne's question about finding joy in grief: May I offer one example? Tomorrow is the first anniversary of my brother's death. I think back to that day before the day we buried him and recall that there was deep grief during the visitation but also profound joy for all that Patrick had brought to our lives, funny stories that were shared and brought laughter even amid tears. And there has been the joy of remembrance and carrying him in my heart, as I do still and always.

    Thank you, Anne, for your lovely post.

  14. Tremendous post! Beautiful thoughts beautifully portrayed. Thanks Anne.

  15. "Being miserly with misery." Good advice.

  16. Maureen ~

    I'm most grateful for your example. It is the most perfect situation I can think of for grief and joy to be married. Thank you for sharing.

    I rejoice with you that you had the privilege of so many happy memories with your brother Patrick. (I still pray the Lord will give me such a privilege with my brother John.) I do pray that tomorrow will once again bring joy to overshadow the grief, as you hold him in your heart. (Thank You, Lord.)

    ~ Anne

  17. Wendy ~ Thank you! You do not fail to encourage me.

    Joyce ~ The more I went through that chapter, the harder it was to use only a few verses.

    Jason ~ Thanks! I hope it strikes a melodious chord with those who need it most.

    Jeff ~ I hope I put this into practice as well as I share it ...

  18. Philippians. My favorite book. It's taught me I can be joyful even when I'm not happy.

  19. And repeat after me, "A good way to dispel misery is to adopt joy when it isn’t being birthed naturally." I will keep your quote in mind as I continue to find healing and closure to some tough issues in my life.I am getting there :)


  20. "A good way to dispel misery is to adopt joy when it isn’t being birthed naturally."

    So very true...thanks for sharing!


  21. Thank you for posting this. It helped to reinforce a lesson about joy that I began learning last week. May God abunduntly bless you and those you love.

  22. Sandra ~ You are wise to distinguish between joy and happiness.

    JoAnne ~ Remember, full closure comes in Heaven. I pray the Lord gives you peace as you seek the closure available.

    Jay ~ You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by. :D

    Tricia ~ I'm ALWAYS grateful to hear that the Holy Spirit uses my words for His purposes. Thanks for sharing that.

  23. This is written so lovely. I appreciate your expression. Being miserly with misery is excellent. I have seven children I homeschool. The mess, the training, I get miserable sometimes - but it is not my right or my privilege to "share" my misery; I absolutely should be miserly with it. And I should adopt joy - for their sakes, for my sake, for my Lord's glory's sake. Thank you for a wonderful post!

  24. Thank you Maureen. Interesting to note when I read this on May 3rd, my friend who was not well had been on my heart all day. I had several long felt conversations with the Lord regarding him throughout the day. Hence my response to your post Anne. Sadly, I woke up to the news of him passing. I can honestly say that through the grief I am relieved he is no longer in pain, and joyful to think of him with Christ.

  25. Cheryl ~ As I homeschool my own five, I completely appreciate what you're sharing. Desire to set an example for my darlings keeps the smile on my face sincere, regardless of all else beneath it.

    T ~ I'm so sorry, dear. How blessed we are to keep not only our hope for tomorrow, but strength for today in God's faithfulness. I rejoice to hear that your grief is temporal, and combined with joy. I love you and will be praying for you today (while I'm out of town and offline).

  26. This was a really perfect title. And those "sloppy emotions"...I've been so careless sometimes.

  27. "On Christ the solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand."

    I believe you only find complete joy in simply clinging to the Rock when the sand beneath you is slippery, wet, and sliding everywhere.

    A bit of misery has found me, and it reassures me that I am indeed a child of God. For in this world I have trouble, but I take heart--for the One Who has overcome the world gives me boundless joy even when I'm drenched with the hardships of the daily grind.

    God bless you today, dear Anne.

  28. "A good way to dispel misery is to adopt joy when it isn’t being birthed naturally."

    Loved that statement. Never would have thought of it that way.

  29. Monica ~ We're all sloppy at times. My kids complain when my cheer is sloppy. Let them complain. I hope someday they'll remember that, rather than those times I've been sloppy with the icky stuff.

    Gwen ~ Dear one, don't expect that misery won't catch you regularly. It is, after all, a fallen world. Just keep on being who you are. Music is made of many chords. We need them all. You're a delight.

    Caryjo ~ Okay. You're the "third times the charm" comment about that line. I'll go tweet it because of your encouragement. :D

  30. peace undergirds joy as faith undergirds hope...hmmmm. i prize peace...but desire more faith then.

  31. Bud ~ I'm greedy. I want them ALL. Love is best. I need patience. In time, all will be full.


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