Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.
One of the strange effects of sin in our lives is that it often renders us incapable of being present to the moment in which we are actually living. When we’re miserable, we make ourselves more miserable still by saying things like, “I shouldn’t be miserable! I should be happy! What’s wrong with me? I have to be happy! I will be happy!” On the other hand, when we are happy, we frequently find ourselves distracted by the thought, “How can you be happy? Think of all the suffering that’s going on the world right now! And what happens if your present good fortune goes away? How will you live if tragedy ever strikes? Could you bear to live without the happiness you are now experiencing?” Interestingly, this inability to live in the moment always tends to drag us away from joy and not toward it. That is because the devil’s continual strategy is to encourage us to focus on that which distracts us from God, who is joy. Therefore, when we’re suffering he encourages us to focus on either our pain or our will power. Either will do since neither are God. Likewise, when we are happy, he encourages us to focus on our pleasure, our guilt over having what others don’t, or our fear of losing our present happiness. However, today’s Scripture points us to the path of life and shows us how to live in the moment. When we suffer, we ought to pray, turning toward God and asking for help and not away from him to try to carry the burden alone. Likewise, when we’re happy, we should enter fully into the happiness by singing praise to the Author of happiness. In so doing, we can hold happiness lightly as the gift that it is and not clutch at it fearfully. It is a classic case of losing your life in order to find it.