A joyful heart – a satisfied confidence and/or an unrestrained expression of enthusiasm or delight!
We strive for it, cultivate it, anticipate it, benefit from it, laugh with it, cry with it, have fun with it, radiate it, simply enjoy it – joyfulness is God’s design for us!
As I was preparing for this year of writing, I looked up some Bible verses which have (or could be translated) the word “joyful” in them. That little study, while scrawled on a couple of papers at my desk, is to be shared on this post or ones that follow through this year. (My plan is to just keep adding to this page below, at least for a season, before beginning another post on this topic for the next season.)
January – Laughter – it IS good to laugh, isn’t it?! While laughter must be only at things which are truly funny (i.e. not ridicule or derogatory comments), there is much around us to tickle at least a smile to two. Sometimes repetitive routines or difficult circumstances take so much time in our lives so I think we especially in those days, we need to endeavor to take time to laugh and share those lighter times with others. These are sort of the thoughts behind why our new Facebook page sprinkles in a few opportunities each month to laugh at ourselves, share some lighter moments, and simply, have some fun as homeschooling moms!
The verses to read this month about joyfulness:
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Eccl. 3:1, 4
- Our youngest daughter especially loves watching the DVD with “the bones” on it – where Steve Green sings the words from Proverbs 17:22 (Hide ‘Em In Your Heart Volume 2). 🙂
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)
- Back in the days when graphics were not able to be sent across e-mail like they are today, Rob and I would occasionally add a graphic (or pass along one from a Christian group of students at university) in our e-mails to each other. Here is one of the first e-mails I received from Rob (shortly before we began dating). (He didn’t draw this one but instead had got it sent to him from someone else, sort of like a graphic going viral.)
The caption said, “I’m outta here!” (referring to the beginning of a school break) and the “good-bye message” continued to direct recipients – “Now send it along to everyone you don’t hate that could use a smile.”
The verse on the graphic (not shown here) referred to Proverbs 15:13:
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)
The NASB translation is similar but perhaps more easily understood – “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”
Emojis sure have changed! 🙂 Those graphics took a lot of time to “draw” directly into the e-mail itself. Because we’re on this sideline, I’ll also show you one of my first attempts at “computer graphics” which was eventually sent back to Rob months later (with the Bible verses). Yes, I tried to draw him! 🙂 It was a little harder than drawing people with a pencil in church services though. (Oops – should I have mentioned that?!)
Try keeping a collection of funny things (e.g. a scrapbook of clippings from magazines, a file folder on a computer, social media, laughable sayings your family members end up saying intentionally or not) that you can show your kids occasionally – perhaps even for practicing “reading comprehension” skills! It’s fun to look back on things like this! 🙂
One winter, when our recent experiences had included a new baby, construction, trying to find things to unpack from our move, among other things (plus homeschooling of course), I ended up taking a break to listen to another homeschool mom speak online. (Her dry humor reminded me very much of a close friend of mine (a young mom) who had suddenly went home to heaven the previous summer.) Anyways, I continued online to see the site where this speaker had posted up some of the funny things she had found relating to parenting and/or homeschooling and I have to tell you, I found myself, for the first time in months of facing serious stuff so often, laughing until I was crying so hard. Sure, I had laughed and chuckled at things in our family during those months, but this was the “gasping-for-breath” kind of laughing. Of course, I showed the avalanche of new funny posts to a few others and they laughed too. Laughter – don’t diminish the importance of it. We all need to laugh regularly! 😀
A cheerful heart? I hope you have one today! ♥
February – Joy is a natural response when noticing what God has done!
Look around you… Creation shouts out a complexity in its design and function that only could originate from the Creator God – the One Who is “perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16)! The angels sang joyously at the time of creation (Job 38: 6-7). The songbirds rejoice (with sounds which are beautiful to our ears as well). The Bible tells us animals, plants, and other parts of our natural world gives praise to the God Who made them. Here are a few examples of verses:
All Your works shall praise You, O LORD…
Psalms 145:10a NKJV
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD.
Psalms 96:12 NKJV
Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD,
Psalms 98:8 NKJV
Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.
Isaiah 49:13 NKJV
Creation can express joyfulness and worship to its Creator. People can notice the work that God has done personally in their lives too. We have a choice to use this language of joy and give praise to Him also!
… [They] went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the LORD had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.
from 1 Kings 8:66 NKJV (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:10)
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.
Psalms 126:3 NKJV
Let’s remember to respond with joyfulness when we notice something that God has done in creation and/or for us personally! ♥
“March” (I hadn’t totally forgotten but this part was written in April as life has been extra busy in March for me.)
The true Source of joy is only God. No amount of human-effort can produce the kind of real and deep joy that comes supernaturally from God. You can try to be happy by copying friends or self-effort but your joy will always fall short of what God, your Creator, desires to fill you with.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NKJV
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of God – a fruit means a result of God at work in one’s life. Joy is produced by God, fills the believer in Jesus Christ, and results in being displayed through that person’s life – their attitudes, words, etc..
True joy is not based on temporary feelings. And joy is not an absence of other emotions; it can still exist alongside them because the person who has joy within, readily understands that victory over the trials is secure and for sure! God understands that we are humans and He has made us to express a variety of emotions. Difficulties are difficult. Even Jesus wept in a time of grief (John 11:35). But possessing the joy of the Lord inside oneself provides the strength to have victory over any of those difficulties, even though we might still experience various natural emotions. Real joy doesn’t have to mean you always are laughing but rather it can be expressed in confident comfort that everything will turn out OK in the end and that God’s presence fills our innermost beings with His joy in the midst of the circumstances we are allowed to face here.
The Apostle Paul states:
“…I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us…”
2 Corinthians 7:4-7 NKJV
Are we happy that difficulties exist? We shouldn’t be happy that trouble is going on or making fun of it in the sense as if something serious doesn’t matter at all. (Sure, sometimes we can make puns and laugh in spite of some difficulties but that’s not what I mean here.) Sometimes we can understand that experiencing certain difficulties have helped us to see some blessings in life from a different perspective than what we would have chosen and that is fine too. But that doesn’t mean that we are joyful or glad for the trouble – that trouble after all, is something that God doesn’t want for our eternity. He doesn’t like it either and He has provided us salvation so that we don’t have to continue having trial after trial forever. I once heard a Christian say that she was so thankful for the blessings of God’s comfort that she had experienced as a result of a disease in her life that she wouldn’t want the absence of that disease. Yet, that latter part of her perspective doesn’t line up with the Bible. We can be joyful in God’s provision of peace despite an awful situation but there is no need to be glad at the calamity itself.
He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 17:5 NKJV
God’s children can know His comfort, be confident in His power to work out His purposes, and be joyful IN trials.
A number of people in the Bible were isolated for a period of time but allowed God to work through them and fill them with His joy, comfort, and peace. There are a couple of verses which I find especially interesting when I think about God’s care and where our joyfulness comes from in times of isolation. I looked up the original Hebrew meaning(s) of the words used (using a computer) and will put that in square brackets within the verses below:
“The humble [depressed in mind or circumstances] shall see, and be glad [brighten up, cheer up, be joyful]: and your heart [comfort, courage, mind, understanding] shall live [be nourished, made whole] that seek [follow, ask, worship] God. For the LORD heareth [pays attention to] the poor [in the sense of want, especially in feeling], and despiseth not his prisoners [those in captivity, isolated].” Psalm 69:32-33 (KJV, square brackets inserted by me)
The Book of Philippians is often called a “book of joy” because of that theme running through those four chapters, yet it was written while Paul was in prison. Here are a few of the many verses in it which shows the joy of the Lord overflowing in his life:
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Philippians 1:3-6 NKJV
God cares! ♥