I have been almost bothered by the fact that I find it hard not to be joyful even when there are depressing realities around. I have been tempted to think that I am not facing reality but one day last week, during my time of devotion/renewal/meditation/recharging I wrote down several reasons, in no particular order, why it is just simply hard not to be joyful and just plain happy to see another day, whether it’s a gray or a sunny day. Why do I answer “very good” when I am asked “how are you doing?” and know that it is actually a tempered expression of what is going on inside me?
This may also be titled Taste of God’s Goodness as that is what produces joy. It may be quite disorderly as I have not made serious attempts to edit the thoughts and it is hard to be chronological, analytical, succinct or grammatically correct when counting your blessings in joy unspeakable.
One night a few years ago, you had a heart attack and did not know it, you just felt a terrible pain in your chest. 2 weeks after that you were at the Doctor’s and he could not understand how you could possibly still be standing on ur feet, much less jog to his office because you were almost late for the appointment. How could I not be joyful knowing that the Almighty preserved and preserves me?
The Doctor quickly referred you to the Montreal Heart Institute and said you must neither drive, walk nor take public transport but be driven because he did not want you to die on the way there yet you did not have a clue about the gravity of the situation and yet you are still very alive 4 years after. How can you be depressed?
You went through procedures at the hospital and the Doctors tell you you could easily have died but could not explain why one of your ateries was completely blocked. How can you be depressed when you realise that what kept you from death was not the universe and nothing but God himself, who you realise cares intensely for you and is very present with you 24/7, which also happens to be the day you were born? It is hard not to be joyful.
The day you had a near fatal heart attack unawares, you tried to jog early in the morning as was your custom but could not jog for 3 minutes. But today you did 45 mins of aerobic workout including 30 mins of vigorous jogging and you did not even feel your heart because it was functioning perfectly? How can I not answer “very good” to the question how are you?
It is hard to be depressed when you have been face to face with death several times and came out unscathed. It is hard to be lifeless in your “devotion” time or in church when you have been split seconds from death including head on collisions, armed robbery attack, terminal diseases and yet you are still alive and well today and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.
It is hard not to be thankful and plain happy to be alive when someone dreamt that you were in a coffin and prayed for you without telling you and the following day a young man is killed right next to your car so the police had to use your car as evidence because his blood was on your car. You could have been right there at the very moment it happened but were not, because you decided to delay your going out. You realize again that He that keepeth Tolulope’s going out and coming in neither slumbers nor sleeps.
How can you not be ecstatic when you know that you are not estranged from God and that right at this very moment, you are in God’s kingdom and are not afraid of eternal judgement. How on earth can you keep from singing?
How can you not be joyful no matter what comes your way when your name is Tolulope which means thanks be to God and you cannot honestly count all the things in your life to be grateful for? How can you not be joyful when every aspect of your life says “Tolulope” when you really think of it?
How can you not be joyful when you are treated bad by people when you know that you have been very bad and are sometimes inconsiderate to people, including your own wife and family members and are forgiven by her, by them and by God. What can depress you?
How can you not be joyful when people talk bad about you or accuse you when you realise that what matters is not the approval of people but the approval of your creator, Savior and Lord? You know you can smile through accusations even when you have committed errors because you know there is One who actually loves you just as you are and will never accuse you. You know that even when he corrects and disciplines you, he does so in Love. You know that here or hereafter, only his approval counts. You smile inside and he gets it.
How can you not be praiseful when you know that you have a heavenly father who is impartial and loves everyone including those who do not know him and those who treat you badly? How can you not worship and completely submit to Him who alone qualifies to be God?
How can you be depressed when you realize your imperfections and habitual errors and things still function amazingly well in your life and you know that it is due to nothing but the God factor in your life?
How can you not be grateful when you have 2 clearly beautiful girls in your life from heaven one of whom is your wife who complements you in every way, the other is your daughter who is clearly way above average in every respect and just simply generates pure joy? How can you be depressed?
How can you ever be depressed when you know that while it may take you a fairly long while to have a 5-minute appointment with President Obama, you know that you can enter into the presence of the Creator at anytime just as you are, for as long as you desire and actually have an audience with the Almighty? The joy of the experience is indescribable. The best part of it is that it is not a momentary high like other highs, but one that lingers, like an addictive intoxication that only slowly wears off. How can you be depressed when you seize the opportunity frequently to enter into that presence even when you have just committed an error, big or small?
How can you be depressed with world news when you know that there is the good news and that you can be the good news to people within your immediate sphere of influence and that your immediate sphere of influence can expand so that more and more people experience the real truth that God is pure love and experience it through a fellow human?
How can you not need help to be unhappy when you have literarily been at a point in your life where you did not know where the next meal would come from and you trusted the Almighty and someone you did not inform about your situation brought the food you needed to bridge that situation?
How can you not be joyful when as a banker, you have been involved in a transaction you knew you should not have been involved in which went sour and because it involved people connected to the very corridors of power in Nigeria, they decided everyone involved would have to go to jail. Your newly married wife had to go look for you at Kirikiri prison in Lagos because there was no hope – it involved the powers that be and it is Nigeria. But like a movie, you were not there because at the very last minute the situation was reversed and the transaction was sorted out. How can you not have a song in your heart?
You were kidnapped one day in Port Harcourt, Nigeria where kidnappings often lead to ritual killings and in the process of being “handcuffed” in the car, you got mad in your spirit and invoked the blood of Jesus at the top of your voice and the power structure shifted immediately after in that car, so that you told them where exactly to take you and again like a movie, anyone who saw you come out of that car would have thought you simply took a taxi. It is hard not to feel invincible as you give thanks to your ever present Deliverer.
In that same city of Port Harcourt one day, instead of Nigerian naira, you mistakenly paid your car mechanic some US dollars. On discovering that the money was missing, you search frantically for it and went back to your mechanic to find out if you mistakenly paid him some US dollars and he denies it. You prayed for the money to be found. Several days later, you had to go do some foreign currency transaction next to Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt and it was at the very moment when your mechanic was with the same foreign currency dealers to change the US dollars you had mistakenly paid him, into Nigerian naira. He is in shock, you collect the money without a single argument and your driver who witnesses it says “oga, you dey use juju”, which means “boss, you must be using witchcraft to have come right on time, not a second earlier not a second late.” You know of course that you were not using “juju”, and it is not a mere coincidence but the very involvement of the Almighty who orders your steps in the way that you should go.
The same day of the foreign currency episode, you were excited to go home to share the news with Gbenga, your brother who was visiting from Ilorin and you arrive home to find only his body on a chair. He had departed. The shock is indescribable but even though you still shed tears ten years after, you are joyful today because you know you will see him again because the same God who fulfills His promise to protect you is the One who said there is a day of resurrection and we will meet departed loved ones who believed in Jesus Christ.
Even though that was a very dark night, you know you are the song “Blessed be your name when the sun is shining down on me…when the world is as it should be”. You also realize with tears that “Blessed be your name when I’m found in the desert place…when I walk through the wilderness…Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering…Blessed be your name though there is pain in the offering” You know that God is God and is good “in the land that is plentiful” as well as “on the road marked with suffering”, and torns and affliction so you are joyful because He has a right to take you through the wilderness en route to Canaan.
How can you not genuinely and knowingly smile when you are in a tight corner where there is no human hope and you seem to be going through the valley of the shadow of death? You have been in such tight corners before financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and every single time, you found a way, even a few days ago. And you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was because “thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”?
How can you not be thankful when you realize that there is Someone who is Almighty, who has a greater stake in and intensely cares about your wellbeing, fulfillment and significance than you do because you are his thought, his intention and handiwork?
How can you not be joyful when you were described several years ago by people who are very knowledgable, as uninspiring and incapable of thought and even though it was depressing at the time to learn that, you have proven their evaluation incorrect countless times and are starting to realize that perhaps, like everyone else in the world, you have something to contribute that the world needs to receive?
As an entrepreneur operating with consideration for people, planet and profit, how can you not be joyful when you face divers difficult situations and challenges? You have been faced with difficult problems in the past as a student and an employee and like Daniel in Babylon, you have received exact answers in dreams. You know the answer is in the omniscient One who created the heavens and the earth and is too awesome to be contained by them but lives in you. So like David towards Goliath, you run towards business challenges with excitement.
How can you be sad when you are in a confined place of affliction? You know that you may be going through afflictions and through the fire but you know it is a refining process like silver is refined. Like Joseph in Egypt, you know the confined place is not your destination but your process, part of your journey here. You truly are joyful in afflictions because you know.
How can you not be joyful when you realize that you are not an accident but originated as a thought and are the intention of the most High God, perfect in all his ways and therefore you are excellent even when you do not look, feel or act like it?
How can you not be ecstatic every day when you know that your life has a definite purpose decided not by you but by your maker and that every event, every mistake, every step, every skill, every talent, every characteristic of yours even the most insignificant, is used by your maker for the purpose for which you were made?
How can you not wake up with a song when the first person you will be talking to that day is none but the Almighty who is infinitely powerful and infinitely good?
How can you not be joyful when you realize that even when you count your blessings, those you do not remember are much more than those you do?
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