When I visited a slum area in India, I witnessed children living in squalor and it dawned on me, they were still smiling. I then thought about the thousands of children I have seen in Haiti and other places—in spite of their abject poverty, they continued to smile. Their smile has kept me smiling. There is something captivating about a sweet, innocent, smiling face. I love to see children smile (grownups too).
Yes, I have seen hurting and hungry children not smiling but consumed in their pain. One can only bear so much. But, I’m still in awe of how kids for the most part, smile regardless of the lack, stench, dirt, and adult hopelessness.
I think these children are not fully aware of their situation. Maybe they don’t know any different, so there is no basis for any comparison. Or maybe, they are just kids! Perhaps that is one of the reasons Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 (NKJV), “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” As adults, we try to overthink things and worry about tomorrow, whereas children live in the moment with hope. And they just believe.
There is a lesson in this for us, big people; joy is not dependent upon what you have or don’t have. I have seen some grownups that appeared to have it all, yet were quite miserable. Maybe they were focusing on the wrong things in life. Possibly, their present state of abundance was clouded by greed or discontentment.
Love, joy, and peace are the first three fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22. If love, joy, and peace don’t make you smile then you may need to go to the doctor because you have lock-jaw (tetanus). The result of the Spirit of God living in you and guiding you will result in love, joy, and peace. These attributes will keep you smiling.
In the Haitian Creole language, the word for children is “timoun” which literally means “little person” (moun meaning person and ti meaning little). These little people will one day be big people and many will lose their smile. Life takes its toll and wipes the smile off peoples’ faces. It doesn’t have to be this way. Jesus said in Luke 12:15 (NKJV), “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
In some of the same locations where the children were smiling in spite of their situation; I saw young men with blank, desperate looks on their faces. You can see the pain and the hopelessness and it makes your heart hurt for them. I suppose that is why God has called me to do what I do and to go where I go. He wants me to take the message of Jesus that will keep the smile of God on children’s faces.
Harry L. Whitt