Exercise Your Joy
Guest Blog by Todd Beezley.
As a child, I spent multiple, extended stays in the hospital, coping with the painful effects of an inherited, brittle bone condition. Being laid, flat out, on a no-frills gurney with one leg encased in 20 pounds of plaster of Paris is not the position optimally associated with building one’s physique. And, yet, there I was, at age 7, day after day, blowing with all my limited, childish might into a tube of air that powered volumes of gaily-colored red and green water from one two-liter reservoir into the next.
When I exhaled, I could witness the results of my efforts. The level of red water in one bottle would rise as the corresponding amount of green water in the alternate bottle fell. Whenever one bottle reached maximum capacity, the process would start all over again, in reverse.
Of course, the color of the water was of little importance, other than to capture and hold the attention of the aspiring respiratory athletes. My medical guardians understood the importance of completing the process. Breathing deeply, according to their prescription, would keep my lungs functioning strongly, and ward off the onset of pneumonia. For me, at the time, it was all about moving the water. But, in their wisdom, they knew the real reason for the exercise.
I share this childhood memory because it directly parallels a spiritual therapy for adults that may ward off the onset of depression in your life. For over 30 years, I have been anticipating the fulfillment of a mammoth promise from God, riding a roller coaster of high hopes and deep dips based entirely upon circumstances, the failed promises of man, and inevitable, endless delays.
Throughout the course of this “less than amusing” ride, I have kept the faith, but lost something nearly as valuable, my capacity for joy. Oh, yes, I remembered that the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. (John 10:10) But I never considered that the “test of time” might be appropriated by Satan to steal a critical component of my soul.
One night, I was crying out to God, literally in tears, because my life was no longer working, and he answered that prayer in short order by personally introducing me to a Christian author who had grasped the need for maintaining joy as the key to our spiritual success.
As we read in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.” My new spiritual mentor and friend had rightly diagnosed my ailment. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but [when] the desire cometh, [it is] a tree of life.” His prescription was simple. I needed to exercise my joy.
At first, I balked at the order. How can I be joyful when I cannot identify improving conditions in my life that should bring me joy? This world teaches us to rejoice over good circumstances and pleasant outcomes. You cheer after your team scores a touchdown, and not before.
But we are NOT of this world. And God’s ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9) He has, in fact, ORDERED us to rejoice, ALWAYS, and then, He repeats the command, “Again I say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) How is this possible in the midst of tragedy, disappointment, or delay? With God, ALL things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
In fact, God would not have called us to this discipline unless His presence within us might make it possible. We are new creations in Him, and when we choose to “put on” the new man, He empowers us to make right decisions. The danger for us is in NOT obeying His order.
Jesus taught that unless we worked to keep joy alive, we would turn out like the men of His generation, those exposed by him in Luke 7:32, “They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.” Most children can leap about and celebrate on command, but these adults had lost their capacity to feel.
So, if we find ourselves in a similar place, and our joy is gone, how do we recover it? We ask God to restore it to us by faith. We receive it gladly by faith. And then, we exercise it to keep it alive and healthy.
What, then, are the mechanics of joy? Isaiah 61:3 gives us a clue. It tells us we are given the “garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,” and “the oil of joy for mourning.” A garment is something one wraps around his body, even as one’s head is anointed with oil. In each case, the cure for depression is applied externally.
Joy becomes an action one performs, which replaces the passing feelings of happiness. You retrain your soul, helping it to regain its capacity for joy, only by performing the externally visible ACTIONS of joy. While this may FEEL foreign or insincere to the one obeying these commands, they become the physical therapy of emotional victory; the hard work of joy that increases your capacity to respond, feel, and overcome.
Athletes perform up to their God-given potential only through countless “reps” on the practice field. Christians fulfill their God-given destiny by obeying the Coach and practicing obedience. Like blowing air into those Christmas-colored, hospital water bottles, the process may seem to us tedious or meaningless, but growing our capacity to enjoy His blessings will ultimately allow us to experience more of the Zoe life promised us by our Redeemer.
Prayer: Father, King David prayed (Psalm 51:12) that you would restore unto him the joy of your salvation. But he had already learned the secret, that joy is not just something he felt but something he did (I Chronicles 9:29), and that the feelings would necessarily follow his actions. Lord, teach us to celebrate in Your presence, no matter what the circumstances, and receive the blessed fruits of our labor, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
To contact Todd, send him an email at: TBeezley1@msn.com
Now Donald again:
There are no wrong answers here, only seek more of Jesus who already paid for every failure we ever made, are now making, or will make. Since He was healed of it, so are you. It is there waiting for you to get it.
It will be shameful for you to show up on the Day of Judgment and see that every hardness of heart was already healed and waiting for you to do the right labour to get that hardness of heart healing already done in Jesus.
A Bible not devoured is like bags of seed stored away. The potential of God into the Earth is there, but never a harvest is made. Jesus is the Seed. The only soil that matters is your heart.
God loves YOU!
Keep Working the Word so God can Work!
God Bless You and Yours in the Name of Jesus to be more Noble in Him (Acts 17:11-12)
Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth!
Donald C. Mann
Speaker, teacher, navigator and author of The Power Trilogy:OK, God, Now What? Discovering Our Redemption Battle Prayer for Divine Healing-Field Manual 2