What God says:
"The joy the the Lord is my Strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
"For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and joy are in His place." (I Chronicles 16: 26-27)
"But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You." (Psalm 5:11"
"Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, "All my springs of joy are in you." (Psalm 87:7)
This chapter focuses on having joy and how a heart-attitude of contentment and joy combined with the outer workings of that attitude (smiles, laughter, and good humor even in tough situations) are attractive. I know that a joyful life-view is attractive. I would rather be with a friend who is enjoying life and looking at God's goodness than with one who is always complaining and moping and refusing to see the cheerful side of life.
When my life is full of joy and its "symptoms," my husband (not to mention other people, though he's the most important) will enjoy being with me much more. Even when I am feeling tired and ill, I can still be a joyful, pleasant person to be with.
Since joy is such a needed quality to hold relationships together, I did some extra study on it. Since I like Webster's 1828 dictionary so much I looked up "joy" and "joyful" in it. Here are my summaries of their definitions:
Joy: excitement or emotion caused by success, good fortune, or acquiring something good or desired. Gladness, exultation, exhilaration, delight, happiness, festivity. My favorite description is, "a glorious and triumphant state."
Joyful: full of joy, or exultation; very glad.
I also looked up the verses in the Bible that have the word "joy" in them, as Debi Pearl suggested. I found some interesting and enlightening common themes throughout. The majority of the time, joy is connected with God, His provision, His care. This gives insight as to where my Joy comes from. I can't base my joyful attitude on how well my projects and house work are going, or on how happy and appreciative my husband is, or on how sweet and obedient my son is being, or on whether the sun is shining, or on whether I got a good nights sleep. No, each of these things is temporal and changeable. If I try to base my joy on them, my attempts at being joyful will flop dramatically. I must base my joy on GOD and what He has done and is doing in my life. If I base my joy on Him, I will be able to be joyful no matter what my external circumstances are. (Remember: "The Joy of the LORD is my strength.")
I was also fascinated by the external "symptoms" of this joy in the Lord. Over and over again I saw that this joy was expressed in music, dancing, and shouting. People's praise overflowing in singing, playing stringed instruments, trumpets, flutes, and tambourines. And in accompaniment to the music was joyful, worshipful dancing. I also found a correlation between thankfulness to God and joy in Him with people's obedience. Their joy in His goodness and provision motivated them to obey the commands He gave. Another common expression of joy was celebrating and feasting. I think this goes to show that when we are filled with that thankful, God-centered joy, it will affect every area of our lives.
A favorite quotation from this chapter:
"Few women ever know what it means to be cherished by their husbands...Being cherished is much, much more than being loved. It will be worth all your effort."
"Bubbling cheer goes a long way to maintain or even restore a marriage. Make a decision right now to break the "poor me" habit. Today, put it down as sin and rebellion, and then tomorrow, wake up with joy in your heart and home."
Practical goals for this week:
~Once again, be cheerful in the morning and evening, even when I'm tired.
~Focus with thanksgiving on what God has enabled me to get done instead of focusing on and mourning over all the unfinished tasks.
~Make God and His marvelous provision and goodness my focus to give me a true foundation for joy.
~Share with my husband each day how God was good and how He provided.
~Smile and laugh with Little Man.
~Smile at Benjamin and make him laugh when I can.
~Enjoy the life and tasks God has given me.