Today’s reading: Proverbs 13-15.
In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – Khalil Gibran
Your heart health is key to your overall health. As a physician I see it over and over. A younger person dies suddenly because a small artery in the heart closes down. An older person lives on despite multiple disabilities because their heart is strong. We know all the risk factors for heart disease – smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol – but the Bible concentrates on the psychological factors that weaken our hearts. They are just as powerful, and often more easily altered than factors like age, sex, and family history that are beyond our control.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. 13:12
Desire and disappointment. Disappointments can be devastating, especially when they continue year after year. Hope isn’t just deferred; it’s lost. But when our desires are fulfilled it rejuvenates us. My advice: set goals you can achieve, and keep them coming. It may be a trip, learning a new skill, or doing something for someone. Having something to look forward to is as powerful as the fulfillment of that task. You won’t obtain every desire, but having a variety of goals – some more and some less difficult – keeps life interesting and ensures some success.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones 14:30
Relationships and rest. Peace here means peace in our relationships. Peace with God to begin with. Then peace with others, and finally peace with oneself. Peace in these relationships leads to rest from stress in the natural world and blessings from God in the supernatural arena. Envy is just one example of striving and conflict that comes from broken relationships.
All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. 15:15
Outlook and outcomes. The cheerful person finds more enjoyment no matter what their circumstances. Even obstacles can be looked at as opportunities and the ordinary becomes more special because of their positive outlook. Yes, some people are naturally more cheerful. The challenge is to put on a more upbeat game face as we go out to tackle the world. We do have the Good News. We do get all this and heaven besides.
Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. 15:17
Location or love. Usually you can’t have everything you want. Resources are limited, so you have to make choices. For the sake of your heart, choose what will lead to deeper relationships. Love matters more than how much you make or where you live. Time trumps titles.
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. 15:30
Happiness and health. My first thought after reading this verse was that when others look at us joyfully, it brightens our heart. We can’t determine the news, but we can speak kind words to others. The flip side of this verse is research showing that when we actively smile or put on a happy face it leads to improvement in our own mood. A cheerful look on my face brings joy to others and myself. Again, we shouldn’t have to look far to find this kind of optimism. When you feel discouraged, remember that Jesus said, “be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”
Image by John St John on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0