God sends gift of joy from above

By Joan Clayton: Religion columnist

Have you ever noticed how many times the words “joy, joyful, rejoice, rejoiced, rejoicing” appears in the Bible? It’s because the gospel is indeed “Good News.”

I believe the greatest gift to mankind is truly “ Joy To The World.”
Joy is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Happiness depends on circumstances but joy rises up in the believer, even in adversity. (James 1:2-3)

It’s easy to rejoice when all is well. The real test comes in rejoicing in the hard places. Reading Nehemiah 8:10 gives me lots of joy. “… Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.” (NCV) Psalm 30:5 is another favorite passage that gives me joy.

Did you know the Lord even “joys” over you with singing? Zephaniah 3:17:
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Joy does not come from worrying, fretting and stewing. The enemy of our souls would have us to walk in defeat, depression, and discouragement. Who could have joy in the midst of that?

Joy can come to you in hard places. At 74 my mother had severe illnesses but medical science brought us joy by extending her life 11 more years. Even in the darkest moment, joy explodes and brings peace and gratitude.

Someone once said, “Life is like a bicycle … stop peddling and you fall off.” My greatest heroes are those who “keep peddling” in life. Regardless of hardships, they keep on keeping on. You will not catch them in the “self-pity” trap. Somewhere in their hour of trial they still find the strength to help others. They have learned that even in pain, they don’t have to be a pain themselves.

These heroes have discovered a very important principle: “What is given to life is returned to the giver.” Givers focus on the important things, God, family, friends and the needs of others. Joy finds those who give life their best shot and they do it with a joyful spirit.

Every day is a brand new day. It has not been lived before. It’s a gift! You and I have a choice to be joyful and have a good day or we can grumble and be miserable.

Psychiatrists agree the happiest people are those who give themselves away. Simple acts can bring such joy and pleasure. You will never regret showing kindness to an elderly person. Being the first to apologize displays humility. Saying encouraging words brings comfort. Give those you love words of love. Say, “You are important to me. I care about what you care about. I have faith in you. I love you.”

I like to think of the book of Philippians in the Bible as the “Joy” book. One of my favorite verses is “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

Being joyful lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and family friction. Joy reduces stress. Joy anticipates hope and optimism. Joy attracts others. It is contagious. Joy brings hope. Joy brings health: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

Jesus came to “give life and to give it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17)

That includes “joy” and all of the other 8,000 promises in God’s Word.
Each day is a gift wrapped with wondrous beauty and tied with ribbons of joy. Only those who see with hearts of joy may open the gifts of today to find that joy.

Joy adds life to your years.

Be joyful today!

Joan Clayton is a retired teacher, writer and religion columnist living in Portales. E-mail her at:
joan@yucca.net