Negative, dismal, and unwholesome circumstances swirl around us like an endless video, reminiscent of a lion stalking its prey. Television, radio, your iPhone, newspapers, other print and social media, daily lay out the darkest sides of life. It seems as if they are competing with one another to see who can win the gold star for divulging the most horrific events or conditions.
For many of us, these types of reports induce adverse physical and emotional reactions: elevation of blood pressure, heart irregularities, skin reactions, hair loss, fear, depression, crying, and anger, to name a few.
During my college years, I remember reading an allegorical novel by Franz Kafka called The Metamorphosis.¹ Although what occurs to the character in the story is impossible (he turns into a giant insect), it expresses an exaggerated account of what happened to one man who is overcome by the events of life.
Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, walked on water until he looked around at the circumstances (the boisterous waves and strong winds), then he began to sink. (Matthew 14: 29-30)
These constant bombardments of ominous reports seem to be ongoing and almost impossible to escape, yet there is an antibody to stand against the sickening affects of these attacks.
Joy is one of the greatest antidotes to this seemingly torrential onslaught of
unfavorable and toxic circumstances. Expressing joy when you seem to have stepped into that bottomless pit may be difficult for some. You may be rather stoic or reluctant to express emotion, but if you can release your joy, the results will be heartwarming and pleasant. Some may have a perception that singing is joy. But singing, dancing, or shouting is merely the outward, emotional expression of joy. Joy is a fruit of the spirit and flows from within you.
David wrote 73 of our treasured Psalms. There were no limits to the communication of joy in his writings. Some were sung to the accompaniment of stringed instruments, some expressed victory or a prayer, and many were tender sentiments of friendship or expressions of repentance. Psalms written by others, expressed praise, thanksgiving, and adoration to God.
David’s son, Solomon, composed 3,000 proverbs, and his songs numbered 1,005. It is recorded that he wrote about life experiences and love, cedar trees, animals, creeping things, and fishes. (I Kings 5:12-13).
Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten, and thrown into jail. One might have thought them to be lunatics, since their response to such cruel treatment was to sing hymns and pray. They released their joy and God gave them strength. Also, they were released from the bonds of prison. (Acts 16:25-27)
If you should have a moment of joy and you don’t want to share it with others, your garage or walk-in closet may become a temporary joy shop until you overcome your shyness to openly express your joyful feelings.
Contrary to some misguided non-churchgoers, all Christians are not legalists and “religious sour grapes.” We do know how to laugh and how to party in a Christian setting. Some of us really know how to dance before the Lord!
Many of us like to listen to jazz, and others of us are inspired by contemporary, gospel and country music, produced by some amazing Christian artists. Frequently, we are very passionate about sports and different teams, e.g. Dodgers, Lakers, Rams, Kings, etc. Soccer is also another favorite, and of course, we love our pets!
The Book of Proverbs tells us: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). If you can regularly stir up your joy, you can create a new spiritual video to neutralize the effects of that incessant, irritating, negative life video.
¹ Franz Kafka., The Metamorphosis. Kurt Wolff Verlag Leipzig (German 1915.)