When I was a little girl, I saw the movie Pollyanna. Positive and joyful, the orphan Pollyanna helped others see the bright side of life. She called her outlook the “Glad Game.” When she fell and became paralyzed, she was thankful she had legs.
While Pollyanna is just a nice story, sometimes our powers of positive thinking are left by the wayside. We forget that there’s always a reflected rainbow and a reason not to be grouchy. As women in ministry, the tasks don’t just seem unending. They are! The mountain doesn’t just seem too high. It is! People don’t just seem hard. Their culture and the adversary have hardened them. We can see the hardships so clearly—and God at work dimly.
In this Thanksgiving month, I’m frankly at a loss to explain the “Glad Game” to you.
- A fellow missionary lady, one of my dearest friends, has passed away.
- Another beloved friend has died.
- Some things in our church ministry on the field are going badly. Many of our people have serious needs.
- Our parents are getting old.
- We are asking God for clear direction.
At the same time, we’re surrounded by blessings:
- The beauty of the Basque region in the fall—and some clear days without rain.
- Phone calls and Skyping with our kids, grandkids, and parents
- Looking back over many years of God’s guidance and provision
- The opportunity for a quick trip to the States and seeing family, and the blessing of being in a missions conference—our first in many years
- Good friends
. . .I could go on and on!
There’s every reason to be Pollyanna glad, but sometimes, though I'm truly thankful, I don’t feel very happy.
What can be done?
How can I turn November into a month of praise, even if circumstances on the field don’t change? How can I better perceive what God is doing and focus less on my own sorrows and struggles?
Praise God like a Levite!
When the Lord organized Old Testament worship, He gave the Levites several jobs: And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel: And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise (1 Chronicles 16:34-35). Four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith . . . And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even (1 Chronicles 23:5b, 30). Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped (2 Chronicles 29:30). The Levites were told to use the praises they found from David and Asaph. Where are they? In the Psalms!
- I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high (Psalm 7:17).
- Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power (Psalm 21:13).
- The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him (Psalm 28:7).
- And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long (Psalm 35:28).
- In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word (Psalm 56:10).
- Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee (Psalm 63:3).
- Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy (Psalm 99:3).
- Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever (Psalm 106:1).
- For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD (Psalm 117:2).
- I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation (Psalm 118:21).
- Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes (Psalm 119:164, 171).
- I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well (Psalm 139:14).
The next time you feel overwhelmed—quite possibly today and now—make it your daily job to do praise like a Levite! Use the Psalms as a guide for thanksgiving. Get your focus onto God’s goodness and sufficiency and on His working in the hearts of man.
Every day will I bless thee;
and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.