Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time. — Proverbs 17:22
This might surprise you, as it did me, that the word “joy” is used 333 times in the Bible. It is spoken of almost 100 times in the Psalms alone. In the New Testament, joy is listed as one of the nine “fruit of the Spirit,” right next to love. It literally means “to rejoice and be glad.”
The Bible tells us that the wise men “were filled with joy” when the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem and stopped over the place where Jesus was born (Matthew 2:10-11). The Father was filled with “great joy” at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). Again at the Transfiguration, the Father proclaimed the “great joy brought by His dearly loved Son” (Matthew 17:5) and Mary Magdalene was “filled with great joy” when she discovered that Jesus had been resurrected from the grave (Matthew 28:8)! Joy is one of the most beautiful words in the Bible, as well as all languages, because it describes a condition of the heart that cannot be made up—because It’s real!
But how do we appropriate joy in the face of life’s most serious trials and conditions that so many of us will face sooner or later? First I would say, like all the fruit of the Spirit, we ask God to help us and then apply His response in our lives. I recently read of a wonderful lady who was faced with one of those life challenges called cancer. She had two choices: Submit to the ugly side of it or look for the blessing. She chose the latter.
Beth Loggans, the 50-year-old wife, mother of two and grandmother of seven will soon celebrate her fourth Thanksgiving, following the diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia, a fast-spreading form of blood cancer. “I have so much to be thankful for,” said Loggans in an interview, “I am thankful that God brought me through this and am thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for his comfort and his calming of my fears. I’m thankful to him for the time he has extended to me.
“I am thankful for my family and the people I have met because of my illness, the doctors, nurses, fellow patients and their families. I am thankful for the prayers of the people from many churches, people I don’t even know. One woman I don’t know started a fundraiser for me where she works. I’m thankful for her. I’m thankful for the help and encouragement of so many people, their cards, letters, and donations.”
“I know it may sound strange, but because of these things, I have come to the point where I can now say I am thankful for the cancer. But that’s not to say I would jump back in line and say ‘Let’s do this again.'”
In the midst of all the unpleasantness, physical hardships, and emotional difficulties brought on by her cancer, Beth said she made an important, conscious decision.
“I determined ‘to choose joy.’ I’d say to anybody in a similar situation, ‘choose joy.’ I set a goal for myself to walk this path that God has chosen for me and to bring him honor and glory whether by living or dying. That’s my heart’s desire. That gives me hope and joy and a reason to get out of bed every morning and push on to make a difference.”*
What a wonderful testimony that gives all the glory to God. So dear saints, no matter whether it be a cancer diagnosis, financial difficulties, family issues or other painful times that come our way, let’s determine “to choose joy”—what a difference it can make. Maranatha!
*Beth Loggans Interview
To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better