At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
All the days of the afflicted are evil: But he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.Proverbs 15:15
Scripture does teach us that different things, both good and bad, happen to men and women, whether they are good or bad. These things have to do with our external circumstances, and to a certain extent our emotional responses to these events are like a thermometer. They reflect what is going on. Job knew when he had received bad news, and he responded accordingly.
But there is another sense in which we carry our own emotional weather around with us. In other words, we are not just thermometers, but also thermostats.
If someone is afflicted, all his days are evil. He is a thermometer. But there is another man who has a merry heart, and he is a thermostat. His attitude is such that everything is wonderful. He has a continual feast because he brings his food with him. He always packs a lunch.
These two circumstances are placed in tension by Solomon. He is not saying that “positive thinking” overcomes everything, but he most certainly is saying that an optimistic outlook, a merry heart, overcomes a lot. And when a person under affliction wakes up to another day of pain, or another week of struggle, he needs to endure what God has assigned to him.
But at the same time, he must take care not to forget the second half of the verse. He must not let a stretch of affliction train him into thinking that how you think of your circumstances doesn’t make any difference at all. A set of bad afflictions is really bad, but not quite as bad as a set of bad afflictions along with a negative attitude. In other words, no situation is so bad but that you can’t make it worse.
And a merry heart is a wonderful companion for most circumstances.