Choose Joy in Troubled Times
The psalmist declares that God himself sits in the heavens and laughs (Psalm 2:4), and the writer of Proverbs describes the “woman of strength” as one who can “laugh at” times to come (Proverbs 31:25). Life can become taxing at times, and moments come when we desperately need a change. Laughter is one way the Creator gave us to switch gears and punctuate monotony with joy. Humor is an exit from the mundane “road of life.” Laughter is a simple yet reasonable prescription for some of life’s ills and most of its tedium (Proverbs 17:22).
Physicians have assigned healing properties to humor, especially in cases of mental illness, such as depression. Certainly, humor defuses tension and helps put one at ease.
With so much tragedy in life, choosing humor instead of despair is good Scriptural advice. Humor generally involves an acceptance of the ups and downs of life and the determination not to take ourselves too seriously. To combat stress, to relieve tension and even to provide delightful diversion in the midst of trials and sufferings, laughter and a keen sense of humor may prove to be precious possessions.
Jesus himself was unpredictable and witty and full of life in his responses. He used irony, word play and hyperbole to get across his messages. In Matthew 22:15 – 22 Jesus cleverly eludes the trap of the Pharisees and unmasks their hypocrisy – he asks a Pharisee for a coin with an image of Caesar and an inscription proclaiming Caesar to be god, knowing that to carry such a coin was breaking two commandments (Exodus 20:3 – 4).
Dwell on the Good
How can you have a “cheerful heart” in the midst of grief and brokenness? The apostle Paul admonished us to trust God even within tragedy and choose to dwell on what is good in the person or situation (Philippians 4:6 – 9).
A number of Hebrew and Greek words are used in the Bible to convey the concept of joy. In fact, the word “joy” is found more than 150 times in the Bible.
Joy comes from God as a result of faith and obedience (John 15:10 – 11; Romans 15:13). The abundance of joy is in direct proportion to the intimacy and steadfastness of a believer’s walk with the Lord. Sin in a believer’s life can rob her of joy (Psalm 51:8,12). True joy is evident regardless of circumstances. The Spirit-filled believer continues to rejoice even amidst troubles (James 1:2 – 3). Biblical joy is clearly different from earthly, temporal pleasures that are bound to circumstances.
The purpose of joy is to provide blessing for the believer. Joy enables you to enjoy all that God has given — health, family, friends, opportunities and salvation. As you experience true joy, your joy can then be shared with others (Romans 12:15). Abundant joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit for those who walk in faith.
Take a moment to dwell on what is good in a difficult person or situation. Thank God that He loves and cares for you through every circumstance.
Article drawn from study features in the NIV Woman’s Study Bible.
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