Hannah Whitall Smith on Cheerfulness and Discouragement

Encouragement Is Part of God’s Plan

Overcoming temptation is a battle, and one’s attitude in the midst of battle is critical. In The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whitall Smith stressed the importance of cheerfulness. It’s more than a gift or a blessing. It’s a weapon.

Romans 12:8 says that whoever shows mercy should do so with cheerfulness. The next verse says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” In other words, be in a good mood and don’t fake it.

Win the fight against discouragement; losing that fight is always more costly than it appears.

In the quote below, Smith compares cheerfulness to warfare:

One of the most fatal things in the life of faith is discouragement. One of the most helpful is cheerfulness. A very wise man once said that in overcoming temptations, cheerfulness was the first thing, cheerfulness the second, and cheerfulness the third. We must expect to conquer.

That is why the Lord said so often to Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage”; “Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed”; “Only be thou strong and very courageous.” And it is also the reason He says to us, “Let not your heart he troubled neither let it be afraid.” The power of temptation is in the fainting of our own hearts. The enemy knows this well, and always begins his assaults by discouraging us, if it can in any way be accomplished.

Discouragement Is Part of the Enemy’s Plan

This simple story about the devil’s strategy meeting illustrates the danger of discouragement. It breeds bad judgment. Christians who are otherwise sensible and mature can do such stupid things when they are discouraged.

I remember once hearing an allegory that illustrated this to me wonderfully. Satan called together a council of his servants to consult how they might make a good man sin.

One evil spirit started up and said, “I will make him sin.”

“How will you do it?” asked Satan.

“I will set before him the pleasures of sin,” was the reply; “I will tell him of its delights and the rich rewards it brings.”

“Ah,” said Satan, “that will not do; he has tried it, and knows better than that.”

Then another spirit started up and said, “I will make him sin.”

“What will you do?” asked Satan. “I will tell him of the pains and sorrows of virtue. I will show him that virtue has no delights, and brings no rewards.”

“Ah, no!” exclaimed Satan, “that will not do at all; for he has tried it, and knows that ‘wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.'”

“Well,” said another imp, starting up, “I will undertake to make him sin.”

“And what will you do?” asked Satan, again.

“I will discourage his soul,” was the short reply.

“Ah, that will do,” cried Satan,–“that will do! We shall conquer him now.”

And they did.