“Happy are you! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph!” “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. The cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” Deuteronomy 33:29; Proverbs 15:13,15
I noticed recently at the post office all the new ads have people looking down–no eye contact. So much of our society exists this way, with virtual communication, and in public places, harried, insulated hustle. But there is something magic, something captivating, about a look-deep-in-your-eyes smile shared with another. It quickens the heart; it awakens hope and security and the sense of being valued; it sparks joy.
En route very early to my gate in an airport, I passed a family and was melted when a young girl caught my eye and gave me a huge, genuine smile. Of course I smiled back–a piece of happiness, ‘thankful-to-be-alive-today’ passed between us in that quick moment. A few hours later, still quite early in another airport, a young couple with sleepy toddlers smiled knowingly at each other, sharing a beautiful, intimate moment of humor and loving joy that arrested me; I whispered, “Thank You, Lord.” Looking around, so many are serious and isolated, so few smiling.
An older woman in our church when I was growing up told me a smile was a gift from God to be used for others. Her simple message stuck with me. I used to hear my mother smile over the phone- it was contagious, communicating such delight for me that I couldn’t help but spontaneously smile back, “I love you too.” Parting with loved ones and sharing the benediction of a smile as we say good-bye squeezes the heart something fierce, and lingers. Job described the power of a smile to refresh and encourage: “They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down.” (Job 29:23-24)
Lord, keep me joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the You have shown. Lift Your countenance upon me, cause Your face to shine on me and radiate to others. Make me ever aware of those around me, and may I always be generous with the gift of a smile that says, “You are special, you are an image bearer of God, and life is meaningful.” (1 Kings 8:66; Numbers 6:26; Psalm 67:1)