Proverbs 17: Joyful Heart

A joyful heart is good medicine,
​but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

There are certain people that truly do have a medicinal effect on my day. These people are the ones who are almost constantly in a state of joy or cheerfulness, no matter what life may be throwing at them. This isn’t some fake happiness or façade, these people truly have a joy that is grounded in the gospel (I’m looking at you Victor Garcia).

This proverb teaches us that if we develop a Christ-centered, gospel-driven joy in our heart, it will be like good medicine. However, if we are walking around crushed, ungrateful, despondent, and faithless, this will dry up our very bones.

Joy isn’t a feeling. Thank goodness. If joy was a feeling then it would ebb and flow, come and go; just like anger or sadness or happiness or embarrassment. No, Christ-centered and gospel-driven joy does not ebb and flow because the One from whom it comes is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow.

It’s easy in the storms and chaos of this life to become discontent or crushed by our circumstances. It’s our natural response to difficulty to become sullen and ungrateful. Brother or sister in Christ, fight for joy. Fight for joy in the glorious truths of the gospel. Remember all that God has done for you in Christ, and let these realities cascade into your heart one right after the other. You will find that a heart overcome by joy is truly good medicine.

Joy isn’t a feeling. It’s a command. It’s a choice to wake up and meditate upon the good news of the gospel, allowing the promises of God to awaken your heart to the wonderful beauty of His presence.

You can be having a difficult day and still cling to joy. When my grandad passed away in October I had some days that were full of tears but also full of joy in the knowledge that he had saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Biblical writers encourage us to count all of our life as joy. This isn’t as easy as just sprinkling a spoonful of sugar on our circumstances. It is so much deeper than that. It is remembering that God is orchestrating everything in our lives for his glory and our good.

Father God, I thank you for the men and women in my life that teach me what it means to be joyful. I pray that you would grow in me a heart that is overwhelmed by the joy that comes from gospel realities. When the difficult days come, help me to remember that you have a plan for my good. Help me to fight against ingratitude. Instead, give me joy.
– Nathan Roach

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