A Joyful Heart

No running water…… no electricity…… no money for kids to go to school…. abject neglect…abuse of every style…daily topics with which to grapple and wrestle and fight.  Just when the fight threatened to burn out from within me, a pediatrician, an orthopedic surgeon, an eye doctor, two nurses and a pharmacist float in for a week.  Honestly… my heart cried, how far will that go amongst so much hard and ugly.

They started their ministry, completely unbeknownst to them, the moment they walked through the gates in the airport with boisterous laughter and a joy that would not, could not, be contained throughout every moment of their seven days with us.  The following days were spent undertaking medical clinics, eye exams, making house calls…doing church…being the church.  The laughter, the joy, literally rang out from the back of the clinic filtering outside to the waiting areas where people were infected and unwittingly giggling from the sounds within.  Winsomeness.  Joy. So many smiles and Oh, the joy.

Charles Swindoll comments in his devotional that winsomeness motivates, encourages, and it simplifies; it is the ability to cause joy and genuine pleasure in the thick of it all.  In the thick of it all, laughter floated in for seven days and lingers still in the memories to encourage and breathe in fresh life.  Proverbs tells us that, “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones” (17:22). Yes, Tuberculous, arthritis, broken bones and the malnourished were present and treated.   But what we also really needed, what God sent us, was some good old fashioned, preventative medicine…winsome joy.

The hard, ugly needs remain.  But today, today they do not seem to be screaming. Things seem calmer somehow today and dare I say, the burden seems lighter?

(Charles Swindoll (1983), Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life)

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