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As a kid, I thought the circus animals were interesting, but the clowns were delightful. They did funny, unexpected things, and they always wore a smile. Clearly, clowns were made for kids, but there was one exception.
Amid all the other clowns with clean clothes and painted-white, happy faces, Weary Willy stood out like a fly swimming in chicken soup. This scruffy, dirty-looking tramp entered the circus tent dressed in tattered clothes. A sad-faced loner with a bulbous nose and a dark growth of beard.
Why was he even there? He wasn’t part of the main attractions but wandered into other performer’s acts. How rude, but the adults laughed anyway. He looked like a starved hobo who had just leaped from a passing train, a perpetual loser. When he kept trying to sweep up the elusive spotlight circle in the circus ring, I felt his frustration, but adults thought it was side-splitting funny.
One day, he walked into the stands. All eyes were on him, not on the circus floor. A boy offered him some popcorn. The clown held a piece high for everyone to see, as if that single morsel was more than he had eaten all day. Then he handed the one piece back to the boy and walked away with the box. The crowd roared, but I have to wonder what was so funny about being sad.
For his whole career, Emmett Kelly had been paid to look sad, even when he was glad. Nobody ever saw him smile in public, not until that special day in 1955 when he received news that his daughter had been born. Then the flashbulbs went off and pictures recorded his happiness.
Some people say they are happy, but they wear frowning faces like Weary Willy. Are they being paid to look sad?
Unlike Weary Willy, I want to appear glad all the time. Can I smile in the midst of my pain? I think so. Isn’t eternal life enough to make an adult rejoice and always wear a smile?
Always rejoice in the Lord. I cannot overemphasize our need to praise the Lord, rejoicing in every situation. — Philippians 4:4