Do you smile in times of trouble?

In the throngs of our country’s hard-fought struggle for independence, Thomas Paine wrote this:

These are the times that try men’s souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. . . . I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

Thomas_Paine_by_Matthew_Pratt,_1785-95

What incredibly powerful words . . . words that are strikingly similar to David’s words in Psalm 112:7, speaking of the “righteous man:” “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”

While we aren’t in the throngs of a revolutionary war right now, we still are in times that “try men’s souls.”  There are all kinds of “wars” (literal and figurative) going on in our world.  All kinds of battles (tangible and spiritual) that are warring for our minds and souls.  I don’t need to give specifics – you know what they are in our country, our world, and our individual lives.

Like many generations preceding us, we live in troubling times that:

  • Test whether we have strong beliefs, convictions, and principles
  • Test whether our hearts our firm in those beliefs, convictions, and principles
  • Show us whether we have “little minds” or consciences that approve our conduct.

In the midst of these times, I pray that you and I can be the person that Paine and David describe . . . people who:

are not afraid of bad news

can smile in trouble

gain strength from distress

grow brave by reflection

will pursue our principles unto death

because:

our hearts are firm

our consciences approve our conduct

we are trusting the Lord

But you and I cannot be that person without first knowing, understanding, and really believing our passions, convictions, and principles, which are firmly rooted in a trust for the Lord.

So if you don’t know what you’re passionate about . . . take the time to figure it out.

If you don’t have real and deeply-rooted convictions and principles . . . spend time in prayer and thought to develop them.

If you aren’t trusting the Lord . . . spend time meditating on the Word, praying, and reflecting, and let God develop your heart, mind, and soul into one that is intimate with Him.

Just imagine a world full of people living the lives described by Thomas Paine and David . . .