Tag Archives: definition of joy

Sunday Devotional: Be joyful!

Isaiah 12:3

With joy you will draw water
from the fountains of salvation

Zephaniah 3:14, 17

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem! […]
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior,
Who will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
Who will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The Bible is replete with injunctions that we be joyful; the above three passages are examples.

What is joy?

The dictionary defines “joy” as “a state of happiness or felicity.

Joy is different from happiness in that happiness is a fleeting emotion, but joy is a”state” — the condition of a person — of happiness. As someone once said, “Joy is not a season, it’s a way of living.”

Joy is not based upon whether things are going well or not. Joy is an emotion that comes from the anticipation, acquisition or expectation of something great or wonderful.

Joy consists of at least two components, gratitude and optimism, both of which are beneficial to our health (see my post of October 24, 2021, here).

Have you noticed how what God instructs us to do always turns out to be good for us?

St. Paul tells us joy is one of the fruits or results of having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6; Romans 14:17), which is why we can be joyful even in the midst of great trials and suffering.

I recently was subjected to malicious rumor-mongering from three nieces-in-law, which reminded me of two aphorisms: (1) No good deed goes unpunished; and (2) Never underestimate the human potential for evil.

Instead of getting angry, I thought of what our Lord Jesus had endured — betrayal by a beloved disciple, abandonment by His friends when He needed them the most, followed by torture and death by crucifixion, the most extreme form of execution that the Romans reserved for the worst criminals.

How can any of our trials and tribulations ever compare to His?

At that thought, I became joyful.

Joy even helped our Lord Jesus Christ endure the cross: “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

So be joyful!

Praise the Lord, and let your heart burst with joy!

May the joy and peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~E

 

Sunday Devotional: Be joyful, always

Psalm 126:2-3

Then our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD had done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
Oh, how happy we [a]re!

St. Paul counsels us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Always be joyful.
Always keep on praying.
No matter what happens, always be thankful,
for this is God’s will for you
who belong to Christ Jesus.

The dictionary defines “joy” as “a state of happiness or felicity.

Joy is different from happiness in that happiness is a fleeting emotion, but joy is a”state” — the condition of a person — of happiness. As someone once said, “Joy is not a season, it’s a way of living.”

Joy consists of at least two components: gratitude and optimism.

While it is sadly true that the political, economic, social and cultural circumstances in America are worsening by the day, we still have much to be grateful for.

Being grateful actually benefits us in at least seven scientifically-proven ways:

(1) Gratitude is good for our physical health:

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health — they exercise more often and are more likely to get regular check-ups.

(2) Gratitude is good for our psychological health:

Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, found that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.

(3) Gratitude reduces stress and makes us more resilient:

For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma by making us more resilient:

  • A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – also fosters resilience, enabling you to better withstand trauma and stress. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the 9/11 attacks.

(4) Grateful people sleep better:

Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed helps you sleep better and longer.

(5) Gratitude opens the door to friendship

Showing appreciation to other people can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.

(6) Gratitude improves self-esteem:

  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance.
  • Other studies have shown that gratitude makes us better able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments, and reduces the toxic social comparisons that makes us resentful toward people who seem to have more — money, beauty, better jobs, better health, more friends — than we have.

(7) Gratitude is good for society by enhancing empathy and reducing aggression:

Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were sensitive and empathic toward other people; less vengeful; and less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback.

The dictionary defines “optimism” as “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome” and “the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.”

Like gratitude, there is ample scientific evidence that optimism is good for our health in myriad ways (source: Harvard Medical School):

  1. Heart: Pessimists are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than optimists, even after taking other risk factors into account. Among those who had undergone cardiac surgery, pessimists were three times more likely than optimists to have heart attacks or require repeat angioplasties or bypass operations.
  2. Blood pressure: Optimists have lower blood pressures than pessimists. On average, the people with the most positive emotions have the lowest blood pressures. Pessimists are three times more likely to develop hypertension than optimists, even after other risk factors are taken into account.
  3. Viral infections: Optimists are less likely to develop viral symptoms than pessimists.
  4. Overall health: Over a 30-year period, optimism was linked to a better outcome on eight measures of physical and mental function and health.
  5. Longevity: Since healthy people live longer than sick people, and since optimism improves health, it should also boost longevity — and according to two studies from the U.S. and two from the Netherlands, it does.

All of which goes to show that God, being a loving God, His injunction to us to be joyful is for our own good!

And may the joy, peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~E

See also “Religious Americans are only group whose mental health improved during coronavirus pandemic“.