The Bible Can Help You Find Joy
THOUGH not a medical manual, the Bible does comment on the effect that emotions—positive or negative—can have on a person’s mental and physical health. “A heart that is joyful does good as a curer,” says the Bible, “but a spirit that is stricken makes the bones dry.” Further, we read: “Have you shown yourself discouraged in the day of distress? Your power will be scanty.” (Proverbs 17:22; 24:10) Feelings of discouragement can sap our energy, making us feel weak and vulnerable with no desire to change or to seek help.
Discouragement can also affect a person spiritually. People who feel worthless often feel that they can never enjoy a good relationship with God and be blessed by him. Simone, mentioned in the preceding article, doubted that she was “the kind of person God would approve of.” However, when we look into God’s Word, the Bible, we find that God takes a positive view of those who endeavor to please him.
God Does Care
The Bible tells us that “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” God does not despise “a heart broken and crushed,” but he promises “to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.”—Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Isaiah 57:15.
On one occasion God’s Son, Jesus, found it necessary to draw to the attention of his disciples the fact that God sees the good in His servants. By way of an illustration, he related that God notices when a sparrow falls to the ground—something that most humans would consider of little importance. He also highlighted that God knows the smallest detail about humans, even the number of the hairs on their head. Jesus concluded his illustration by saying: “Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) * Jesus indicated that despite what individuals may feel about themselves, humans with faith do have value in God’s eyes. In fact, the apostle Peter reminds us that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35.
Maintain a Sense of Balance
God’s Word urges us to cultivate balance in the way we view ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote under inspiration: “Through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.”—Romans 12:3.
Certainly, we would not want to think too highly of ourselves to the point of becoming conceited; nor would we want to go to the other extreme and think nothing of ourselves. Rather, our aim should be to cultivate a reasonable view of ourselves, one that takes into consideration our strengths as well as our limitations. A Christian woman put it this way: “I’m not the epitome of evil; nor am I God’s gift to others. I have both good points and bad points, and so does everyone else.”
Of course, to attain such a balanced perspective is easier said than done. It may take a great deal of effort to undo an overly negative view of ourselves that we may have developed over many years. Nevertheless, with God’s help we can change our personality as well as our outlook on life. Actually, this is what God’s Word urges us to do. We read: “Put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but . . . you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Ephesians 4:22-24.
By making the effort to transform ‘the force actuating our mind,’ that is, the dominant inclination of our mind, we can change our personality from one that is overly negative to one that is positive. Lena, mentioned in the preceding article, came to appreciate that until she put away the thought that no one could love her or help her, nothing would or could change her feelings about herself. What practical counsel found in the Bible helped Lena, Simone, and others to make such a transformation?
Bible Principles That Promote Joy
“Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22) First and foremost, prayer can help us find true joy. Simone says: “Whenever I feel discouraged, I turn to Jehovah and ask for his help. I have never been in a situation where I have not felt his strength and his guidance.” When the psalmist urges us to throw our burden on Jehovah, he is in effect reminding us that Jehovah not only cares about us but also views us as individuals worthy of his help and support. On the night of the Passover 33 C.E., Jesus’ disciples were grieved because of what Jesus said about his impending departure. Jesus urged them to pray to the Father, and then he added: “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”—John 16:23, 24.
“There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) As Jesus taught, giving is a key to finding true joy in life. Applying this Bible truth enables us to focus on the needs of others rather than on our own inadequacies. When we help others and see their appreciative response, we feel better about ourselves. Lena is convinced that regularly sharing the good news from the Bible with her neighbors helps her in two ways. “First, it gives me the kind of happiness and satisfaction Jesus spoke of,” she says. “Second, I receive much positive feedback from others, which helps me to find joy.” By generously giving of ourselves, we will experience the truthfulness of Proverbs 11:25: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”
“All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart has a feast constantly.” (Proverbs 15:15) All of us have a choice as to how we view ourselves and our circumstances. We can be like the one who sees everything negatively and feels afflicted, or we can choose to think positively, feel “good at heart,” and be joyful as if we were at a feast. Says Simone: “I try to remain as positive as possible. I keep busy in personal study and in the ministry, and I persevere in prayer. I also try to surround myself with positive people, and I try to be there for others.” Such a heart attitude leads to true joy, even as the Bible urges us: “Rejoice in Jehovah and be joyful, you righteous ones; and cry out joyfully, all you who are upright in heart.”—Psalm 32:11.
“A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) Confiding in a loved one or in a trusted counselor can help us get a grip on negative feelings and put them out of the way before they overwhelm us. Speaking with others can help us to see things from a balanced, positive viewpoint. “Talking things out helps a lot,” admits Simone. “You need to tell someone how you’re feeling. Often just getting it out is all that’s needed.” Doing so will help you experience the truthfulness of the proverb that says: “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice.”—Proverbs 12:25.
What You Can Do
We have considered but a few of the many wonderful and practical principles from the Bible that can help us overcome negative feelings and find true joy. If you are among those who are struggling with feelings of inadequacy, we encourage you to make a closer examination of God’s Word, the Bible. Learn to cultivate a realistic and healthy feeling about yourself and about your relationship with God. It is our sincere hope that with guidance from God’s Word, you will be able to find true joy in all that you do.
^ par. 6 This portion of Scripture is discussed in detail on pages 22 and 23.
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Living by Bible principles promotes joy