People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.-Abraham Lincoln
Life is like a roller coaster.
One minute you’re going up with anticipation and excitement, and then before you know it, the pace and turns change.
And that’s what makes life, LIFE.
It’s unpredictable. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow because it hasn’t happened yet. You make plans and assume, but anything can happen:
Good things. Bad things. GREAT things.
Yet, no matter what happens in life, you are responsible for your reaction and behavior. Only you are in control of how you behave and carry yourself through it.
In the next few minutes, I’m going to reveal the definition of Teth, which is the 9th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Its definition will tie into the verses of Psalm 119:65-72 and teach you 4 principles to live out when going through any situation in life. By the end of this post, you’ll get inspired to be:
- Gracious and
No matter how the roller coaster of life turns for you, remember that it’s up to you how you respond, behave, and carry yourself through life.
Definition of Teth:
“Think positively and it will be good,”
Pronounced “tate” (like mate), Teth holds a paradoxical definition: both good and evil. It is paradoxical because it is commonly paired with the opposite, like:
- It is the first letter of “purity” and “impurity” in the Hebrew language
- It is the first letter for the word “good” in Genesis, used to describe God’s reaction to the creation of light, yet it’s followed by His separating light from darkness. (Genesis 1:4)
- Its shape looks like an inverted pot, which often represents a “hidden” goodness or evil in all things.
Even though there is good, there can also be evil (and vice versa).
What you see is often what you’ll think about. What you think about will determine your actions. However, it is possible to think positively in all cases and act accordingly.
You don’t have to be an optimist to find goodness in your life. It definitely helps, but either way, you have the opportunity to see good things in life all around, and also to shine the light in darkness.
There’s a common practice in the Jewish culture called “favorable judgment,” which means to show favor when it’s not called for. Like when someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of judging them and road-raging, you show favorable judgment by directing your thoughts in their favor:
Perhaps they’re rushing to the hospital. Perhaps they have a really important meeting today.
Once you get on the negative train, it’s hard to go back. Each thought snowballs into something worse and bigger.
But the same goes for thinking positively! As a Christian, you have the power and authority to shine the light on absolutely everything.
Teth tells us that there is a hidden goodness or evil in just about everything. And in the following verses, we can learn from the psalmist’s prayer how to continually find goodness. This doesn’t mean we dismiss evil, sin, and darkness in life, but how to direct our mind to see through the eyes of our heavenly Father, who is good and does good.
65 You have treated Your servant well, Lord, according to Your word.
66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.
68 You are good and You do good; Teach me Your statutes.
69 The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will comply with Your precepts.
70 Their heart is insensitive, like fat, But I delight in Your Law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, So that I may learn Your statutes.
72 The Law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
1/4 BE TEACHABLE: Verses 65-66
“What I believe is that all clear-minded people should remain two things throughout their lifetimes: Curious and teachable.”― Roger Ebert
When things are good and you’re successful, remain teachable. In these 2 verses, the psalmist acknowledges how well God has treated him, yet he continues his prayer by asking for continued teaching.
We can often get to points in life where we feel like there’s no more to learn, no way to further ourselves in certain skills, or even consistently find the good things in life. This leads us to complacency and an unhealthy comfort.
When you seek to learn, you’ll quickly realize that you never really “arrive” anywhere in life. It’s an ongoing journey where you reach milestone after milestone. Like the psalmist directs his prayer to learn good discernment and knowledge, so should we.
To be teachable means to be open to the possibilities of every season in life. Life is full of opportunity, but it’s up to you to seek them out.
2/4 BE HUMBLE: Verses 67-68
“Coachable people seek out those who speak truth to them, even if it is a painful truth, because it protects them and it makes them a better person and leader.”― Gary Rohrmayer
As the psalmist continues his prayer, he states where he was and how far he’s come, while directing all glory to God. Being in a state of humility helps us to remain teachable no matter what.
His acknowledgment of God’s goodness allows humility to reign in his heart instead of pride, which so often tries to take the seat.
To be humble in situations allows you to see in a broader perspective, giving you the ability to shine a light on what’s beneficial to you and those around. It makes Teth come alive because in humility, you’re able to see from bird’s-eye view; the bigger picture.
3/4 BE GRACIOUS: Verses 69-70
“Your graciousness is what carries you. It isn’t how old you are, how beautiful you are, or how short your skirt is. What it is, is what comes out of your heart. If you are gracious, you have won the game.”― Stevie Nicks
When things are bad and situations or people seem to go against you, stick to what you know and do your best, while being gracious.
The psalmist points out how he is wronged, yet he directs his thoughts back to what he knows best: God’s law. Not that he belittles those who are evil, or do evil, but to say, “despite what others say, think, or do, I will keep my eyes on Jesus and delight in what He’s called me to do.”
This is being gracious towards yourself and others. You save your energy by giving it towards what you KNOW is best.
4/4 BE FAITHFUL: Verses 71-72
“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.”― Mia Hamm
Everything happens for a reason, whether good or bad. Take it as a lesson, as if it happened SO THAT you would learn something. Remain in God’s word because it will help you see every situation this way.
In the last two verses, the psalmist acknowledges that when trials and storms happen in life, it’s for our benefit to learn how to behave and respond. It’s on us to find the good and shine the light on where it’s dark. Doing this reveals our faithfulness to God.
And by being faithful, you will be gracious, humble, and teachable. These principles are so intertwined and connected, and allow the Holy Spirit to work through, in, and with us.
Ultimately, the psalmist shows us through Teth that life can turn around just by our perspective.
Like a favorable judgment.
Instead of seeing the bad or taking things personally, practice favorable judgment to help yourself see the bigger picture. Think of this letter Teth and the verses in this section to remind yourself that you have the opportunity to shine a light.
As you learn how to be teachable, humble, gracious, and faithful, you’ll find that each situation and season of life is easier to navigate.