Cheerful or gloomy - 15 September 2023
By Ben Fourie
Many of us have experienced being gloomy and depressed more than once in our lives. I am not thinking of chronic depression that warrants the use of medicine, but of those days when you woke up, wished you could stay in bed and pull the blankets over your head to shut out the drudgery of living. This feeling is, clearly, nothing new. Solomon, who lived about three thousand years ago, knew about being gloomy. The NIV translation speaks of a crushed spirit that will dry up the bones.
Bones, in this sense, does not refer to our skeleton, but is used to depict the complete person, and includes body and soul. We find the same expression in Job and some of the psalms. All of us who have experienced this dejectedness will agree with this interpretation. Gloominess touches our whole life. It can sometimes feel as if you are sucked dry to the bone.
Do we have a recipe to combat the gloom? Many books have been written about how to fight gloominess and depression. Some give very down to earth remedies like, just get out of bed and put the one foot in front of the other, go for a short walk or make yourself a cup of coffee. Others give more intricate psychological remedies. Our proverb today gave us its own remedy by saying “being cheerful keeps you healthy” – easier said than done!
In the end, it seems to me that “cheerfulness” does not necessarily come by itself, but needs to be cultivated. Some people are more cheerful than others by nature, but we can all work towards making ourselves more cheerful. Where and how we grew up have an influence, but knowing how it affected us can help us towards being more cheerful. Our relationships, our health, our fitness, the food we eat and many other things influence our “cheerfulness”. These are all things that we can do something about. It all depends on how willing I am to cultivate a more “cheerful” lifestyle.
To me, the most important of all is our personal relationship with God. Peace with God is the starting point of a cheerful life that will keep us healthy.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that you will help us when the burden of living sometimes seems insurmountable. Help us to understand that we can be cheerful and full of joy, because you love us more than we can ever understand. Amen