Where Does Your Joy Come From?

Happy-Kids-Jumping-1280x853“What did you say?” I asked my 2 year old grandson Wyatt. “A cheerful heart is good medcin,” he replied using his normal dual syllable abbreviation for the word medicine as he quoted Proverbs 17:22.  God only knows how much understanding a two-year-old can grasp of these words that passed through his lips.  My guess is a lot more than we think, although Wyatt’s idea of medicine is pretty broad, even broad enough to call my daily dose of Vibe (liquid vitamins) his medcin as well.  Nevertheless, I am convinced he does know that medicine helps make us feel better and he knows also what a cheerful heart is.  Too bad more adults can’t grasp the simplicity of that profound wisdom and apply it to their hearts as well as a two-year-old can, but, that’s what this post is attempting to correct for the faithful few who may read this.

It’s been a tough week for my normally cheerful heart.  I received a very insightful letter from a close friend who outlined several stressors in his life that were weighing him down and pressing him towards depression.  He admitted that his melancholy is also influenced by the lack of sunshine, a factor we can all relate to in these dark days of winter. (I wonder how the Inuit Indians deal with depression when their winter deprives them of sunshine almost 24 hours a day!) He ended his letter with many positive things he had going in his life that were like lifelines to his soul, pulling him in the opposite direction away from his melancholy. I too want to highlight lifelines for your soul to grab onto in this post but first, a few more reasons why my normally cheerful heart is needing, now more than ever, a huge dose of Hallmark feel-good movies. Perhaps a marathon weekend of “Sarah Plain and Tall” is in order.

At my pastors meeting today, I learned that a former key person in my life (that’s all I feel I can reveal) committed suicide.  I am convinced, literally, that demonic oppression was the primary force driving him to despair and his violent death. I hate demons and the destruction they contribute to people’s lives.  Perhaps I could blog about this topic in a future post, but for now I will say to the skeptics, these fallen angels are responsible for a lot more ugliness in this world than we give them credit for, and my guess is that’s exactly the way they want it.

The letter from my friend and the news about the suicide, were simply two more on top of a sea of news that comes to me each day via my secret internet sources of unfiltered and unbiased news.  Okay, they are not all that secret since the NSA knows where to find them and who’s reading them, but they (the news sources) are all very good at pulling back the hazy curtain of obtuse and palatable news presentations that only give you a third (or none) of the real truth behind the stories. And no, it is not Foxnews.com.  The news items I am referring to are:  1) ISIS and their atrocities and the lack of our President to address the real culprits behind them, 2) the fake spontaneous demonstrations against “racially induced police violence” organized by ANSWER, 3) the Muslim who shot and killed 2 NYPD officers who were aided by the communist mayor of New York who indirectly contributed to those deaths, 4) the hate-filled massacre at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris and our President’s failure to link arms afterwards with 40 world leaders, including Bibi (one of my modern day heroes), who are willing to state their unified opposition to Islamic terrorism.   I need to keep the list short because it really is a sea of bad news, a sea too large to drink in all at once.

Do you feel like a sea of bad news and stressful events is overwhelming your normally cheerful heart?  Keep reading.

The verse my grandson partially memorized ends like this: “but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV) At first, this sounds like a crushed spirit is something that happens to us, but I don’t think Solomon intends for us here to think of ourselves as the victim of circumstances. I think he intends to tell us that a merry heart or a crushed spirit are a choice we get to make.  Think of it this way with my paraphrase: “If you allow your spirit to get crushed, you will dry up your bones and be sick.” I see two main ways to crush your spirit.  The first is described by David in Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin”. His sinful disobedience brought about his own crushed spirit and we are all too familiar with this consequence. I don’t need to elaborate.

The second cause of a crushed spirit is our own elevated or false expectations of how life should be treating us or how people should be treating us and when those expectations are blown up by reality, well we allow our spirits to get crushed.

I do not know your present stressors and how deeply they are affecting your joy, but economically and practically they can all be bundled together in one package called “spirit crushers”. That bag might contain worries over a prodigal child, anger over stolen investments, bitterness over a handicapped child and his or her limited abilities to be self-sustaining in the future. It might contain hurt stemming from an unfaithful spouse or a promised promotion that never came. These can all be spirit crushers because we were depending on all of these things to make our lives better, happier, and more rewarding yet we feel somehow we got cheated. You may have put a name on the person who cheated you, but ultimately and deep down, you are targeting God for His failure to pay closer attention to your world.  If He is sovereign, then it only takes a few logical missteps to conclude that He could have done better, but didn’t.  You’ve concluded, “God is the one who crushed my spirit”, although you can’t say it out loud because you know it would be blasphemy.

Here is how I choose to have a merry heart. First I remind myself that God is good to me and whatever has come my way is for my good (see Psalm 73:1 and Romans 8:28).  Then I remind myself that God’s good intentions for me are not hindered by some impotency on His part but are in fact accomplished through His omnipotency.  Repeating Scripture helps reinforce this in my mind, Scriptures such as Psalm 11. “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” (Psalm 11:4-7 ESV)  If one meditates on these words, one can’t help but become more assured that every injustice on this earth, and those specifically that have happened to you personally, will be paid in full with interest by the only one qualified to sit on the throne, that throne that is orchestrating every minor detail of our lives.  Did you catch what David said?  His (God’s) soul hates the wicked. After you meditate on that concept for a while, imagine yourself in the shoes of the person who stole your inheritance (or whatever earthly joy you were depending on).  Would you want to be in his shoes as he stands in the divine line of fire?

I reinforce these thoughts by putting them to music that I sing (inwardly obviously) to myself.  I find songs like A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD by Nathan and Christy Nockels to be very uplifting and redirecting for my mind. Listen to these lyrics:

Our God is, a consuming fire,
A burning holy Flame, with glory and freedom
Our God is, the only righteous judge,
Ruling over us with kindness and wisdom

We will keep our eyes on You
We will keep our eyes on You

A mighty fortress is our God
A sacred refuge is Your Name
Your Kingdom is unshakable
With You forever we will reign

Our God is, jealous for His own
None could comprehend, His love and His mercy
Our God is exalted on His throne
High above the heavens
Forever He’s worthy…

We will keep our eyes on You
We will keep our eyes on You

We will keep our eyes on You
We will keep our eyes on You
So we can set our hearts on You
Lord we will set our hearts on You!

Finally, I reflect upon God’s personal grace and mercy in my own life and remember that I do not deserve anything but hell and its eternal torment.  I would be on my way there and most likely there already had it not been for my gracious Master’s intervention. We speak of interventions for alcoholics, which is necessary, but I think we also need to speak of interventions for sinners in general. That’s what Christ did for me, and I pray he has done that for you as well.  If you are unsure of this event happening in your life, plead earnestly to the God of mercy to give you a spirit of repentance and contrition so that you too may become overwhelmed with God’s Amazing Grace which will fill your heart with God’s Amazing Joy!

 

About Darryl Knappen

I shepherd the flock of believers called Cornerstone Church in Alexandria, MN, a family integrated Baptist Church and more importantly am married to a fabulous woman named Pati who is grandmother to our 5 wonderful grandchildren, Luke, Wyatt, Brin, Livy and Eleanor (Ellie).
This entry was posted in "Bibi" Netanyahu, ANSWER, Bill de Blasio, Charlie Hebdo, ISIS, ISIS threat, NYPD Police killings, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Where Does Your Joy Come From?

  1. Jennifer Paschke says:

    Hey Dad, I really enjoyed your post today. I am sorry about your friend and the pain that it brings. As I sit here at work at 0400 in the morning I’m close to tears. I see the sadness and evil of this world up close every day. Our emergency department has had an unusual number of tragic pediatric deaths recently. Some at the hands of their parents, some to the flu, others to seizures and the worst a 2 yr old left to die alone in a fire. Joy…..it’s an emotion that I long for and the only comfort that I have in these moments is in knowing the truth. That these babies are perfect once again sitting in the lap of their creator. I don’t know why God allows these injustices but I find peace in knowing that he is in control and does have a plan. I don’t know how I could do this job if I didn’t have that to stand on. I love you. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Like

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