Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)]
Do you remember Pollyanna, the fictional heroine in Eleanor Porter’s book by the same name? When the Ladies Aid society sends a pair of crutches instead of the doll she’d wanted, Pollyanna’s missionary father teaches the disappointed girl the “glad game.” Telling her to look at the good side of things, he points out they can be glad because she doesn’t need the crutches! The girl continues to play the game until her optimism is sorely tested when she becomes paralyzed. Admitting the game isn’t as much fun when it is so hard to play, she eventually finds some good in her plight—she still has her legs. Indeed, the “glad game” is much harder when the issues are greater than getting crutches instead of a doll. Nevertheless, it is a game worth playing.
It’s hard to imagine how God can bring anything good out of our afflictions and sorrow. Moreover, as Pollyanna discovered, the more challenging the troubles, the harder it is to see the blessings in them. It is our faith that helps us accept difficult, even tragic events, because we know that, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” [Romans 8:28] Whether we call it optimism, playing “the glad game,” or searching for hidden blessings, looking for God’s loving hand in our lives is the only way we can have joy, not in spite of our troubles and sorrow, but because of them.
…there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it. [From “Pollyanna” by Eleanor H. Porter]