As part of my focus on cooperating with God for my practical obedience of God, I have been studying and meditating on Biblical joy/emotional happiness. Studying it, thinking about it, and asking God for joy, is helping me hold all my thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ which is increasing my emotional joy and helping stop me from falling back into depression. This psychological “cognitive therapy” (which is very Biblical– “be transformed by the renewing of our minds”) seems to really be working for me. Woot! Glory to God. Here are seven points that I was pondering today when joy welled up in my heart from the enjoyment of getting to do water aerobics this morning. I’m sure there are more reasons to be joyful than I’ve listed, but I share these reasons to live with happiness and joy for now. These points only work for those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ, because God/the Holy Spirit gives believers new hearts and the Holy Spirit gives empowerment to change for the better. And if you’d like to find this strength, peace and hope, unbeliever, you may freely come to Jesus to find forgiveness and grace.
- God has ordained each life. God alone has the power and authority to give a life or to take a life. Life is a gift from God. It is wrong to kill, period.
- God has commanded us to be happy/joyful/rejoicing in His Word — rejoice always; rejoice in everything. I believe this rejoicing is sometimes more of a choice than an emotional feeling (which is contrary to many respected Bible teachers’ take on it). I believe all believers have God’s joy and it is our choice to seek to sense and plug in to God’s happiness/joy despite what mood we may be feeling or how sick our brain might be. Sometimes it is really, really hard–and if you’ve never experienced that, be grateful, but not too quick to misjudge others going through it. If you can’t feel the joy, that doesn’t mean you don’t have it in the Lord. Keep seeking to sense the joy, keep praying for joy, and get help from other well, strong believers, and I believe God will help you heal and experience His joy. He is doing so for me. God is happy with each believer positionally and wants to help us be practically happy as well.
- This present life can be so hard, but life can be fun. It is okay to seek to have fun! Do something you enjoy and enjoy it with God. If we are happy and enjoying an activity or a rest time (when doing right non-sinful things) then God is happy for us and with us. I’ve discovered water aerobics makes me happy and I’m now going to try to do this more often in fellowship with God. Enjoy life with God.
- God is good; faithful; forgiving; trustworthy. He really cares and will provide help in time of need if we ask for it. Believers are forgiven, seen as perfectly righteous, helped in our process of practical/progressive sanctification in being gradually made more practically righteous; and we have the hope of wonderful/blissful eternal life with God and other believers that is better than we can imagine. We believers cannot lose, though for a while, life may be hard. We must never take our salvation and fellowship with good and happy God for granted, but instead must choose to rejoice in it every day.
- It is a joy and privilege to serve and help others. God has ordained each believer’s good works they will do before the foundation of the world. God will guide us to do the works He wants and He will provide the strength and grace to do so. Our good works are done by grace and we get a reward in eternity by grace. We believers cannot lose! Helping others brings so much joy.
- Being grateful for our blessings from God yields joy. It is so helpful to keep a gratitude/count your blessings journal, or a jar full of notes about blessings, or the like. Gratitude really helps combat discouragement over the hard trials, tests, and persecutions of this life. And it helps to prevent the tunnel vision that sometimes comes and causes us to only be able to see the sad and hard side of life.
- We can rejoice because God has promised to use even the hard things in life to all work together for good. We may not see the evidence of the good until the next life, but we can find joy in knowing God has promised not to waste anything hard He allows in our lives. And God has promised that He will never leave us, never forsake us, and will never give us more than we can handle in life IF AND ONLY IF, we are leaning on Him for His power and strength. God’s power is perfected in human weakness. Yes, God may give us hard, hard things to deal with, and we may struggle to understand why–but, He will walk right beside us through it and will provide a way to walk worthy of Christ no matter how hard it may get. The pain of depression and brain sicknesses will end–if not in this life, for sure in the next life in eternity. And I believe as we seek God and help from other believers, that God will help us find healing in this present life. Even if He doesn’t though, let’s trust God and live for Him in joy, or seeking to sense His joy, and be faithful to His great gracious, merciful call on our lives. (And if I forget this in a weak/sick time, please do remind me and help me when I am weak.)