About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, … Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.     Acts 16:25-26

During difficult times, the tendency is to be sad and sorrowful. That is our natural response to pain and tragedy. But Paul and his partner showed us a better response.

The two had been arrested for preaching the Gospel and after been beaten like crazy, they were thrown into jail. But the above text says they did something different. They prayed and sang praises. In other words, they changed the atmosphere. They broke the gloom and doom in their cell. Instead of crying and holding a pity party, they had a celebration party.

The outcome was astounding: God broke into that old jailhouse with an earthquake. All of a sudden, their chains were broken; whatever held them captive was destroyed.

Friend, I know without doubt that this is not easy to do. It is not easy to sing when you feel like crying. It is not easy to laugh when you feel like getting mad. But it works! If you want to see God in action on your behalf and in your life, change the atmosphere.

Yes, God is with us all the time but he only dwells in a joyful atmosphere.

Instead of turning yourself into an object of pity and sympathy, why not turn the table against the thing that seeks to drown you in your tears and bury you in your sorrow? Why not throw away your garment of mourning and put on that of joy and celebration?

So, during difficult times, sing. Play your favorite music collection. Go on YouTube and find some funny clips to watch. Watch a good movie. Do something interesting. Go get yourself a good ice cream. Call up a friend and just talk. Watch a comedy.

Do the things you would not naturally do, and you would see supernatural results.

And that’s exactly what Norman Cousins did when he suddenly developed a crippling connective tissue disease that came with other complications. In the midst of all that, he discovered what he later termed “laugh therapy.” Norman laughed himself to healing and recovery by watching lots of comic films. In his own words:

“I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”

His was a self-induced joy. How much more when your joy is centered on the Almighty! When you make God the focus of your joy!