As a child, former procrastinators, I heard a silly tune with the words “in the merry merry month of May.” That’s all I remember, but it prompts me during beautiful spring to think of joy. We want it. We need it. We’re designed for it.
“A merry heart does good like medicine; but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22 “prescribes” a merry heart. Do we delay taking a doctor’s prescription until we feel better? Let’s not put off God’s prescription. Medicine heals. It prevents a condition from getting worse. “Taking joy” is like a strengthening tonic. Maintaining joy is like the shield of faith that extinguishes the flaming arrows of the evil one. It boosts our health and outlook. It brightens our day in spite of gray skies or unpleasant circumstances.
A broken or crushed spirit is unhealthy. Since vital red blood cells are made in the soft marrow of our bones, I don’t like the idea of that drying up. A quick internet search (Healthline) tells us joy promotes a healthier lifestyle, boosts the immune system, fights stress and pain, supports longevity. Even smiling increases serotonin and endorphins, decreases stress hormones, and is good for the lungs heart, and immune system. (Scripture’s had it right for a long time.)
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4. The Lord prescribes a merry heart. Because our joy is in Him, we can maintain that. Our joy is not dependent on our job, family, health, hair, body shape, or house. God is perfect; He is never lacking, never changes. He secures our salvation and gives us peace and purpose. He’s preparing a place for us. He’ll never leave us. He fills us with His Spirit and empowers us to rejoice. His commands are for our good – and therefore for our joy.
Gratitude is closely connected with joy. Together they’re a dynamic treatment for what ails us. There’s much to be glad about. Rent’s overdue, Johnny’s struggling in school, my job’s in jeopardy. But He reigns!
To rejoice is a command for our good. So is “Let not your heart be troubled.” How do we obey that when it’s hard? Joy involves thinking and feeling. How we think affects how we feel. We choose how we think, what we focus on. We have control God tells us to exercise. His Spirit within enables us to rejoice. And that brings more joy.
To maintain a merry heart doesn’t mean we ignore reality. Sometimes we must grieve, we hurt. But underneath us is our steady Rock to whom we cling. Knowing He is faithful to hold us up settles a joy in us that can be found nowhere else. We can rejoice that much – and keep walking with Him to a better place.
Not just in May, but every day we can know His joy.
What will you focus on about the Lord to help you maintain a merry heart?