A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Whether I was running my youth pastor’s underwear up the flag pole at summer camp, or just hanging out with my friends, I have always had a strong conviction about living life to its fullest. There’s nothing better than sharing stories with a friend or collaborating against an unsuspecting mentor as long as it’s all done in good fun. My favorite memories often involve that rolling laughter that comes from deep within your abdomen, leaving nothing but joyful pain in its place. Laughter is seldom worth it if your eyes don’t become sore and your face doesn’t hurt from the severe stretching of your muscles. As Christians, I feel that we often forget how much joy the Lord has intended for us to experience.
While the world seeks to find happiness and joy from a variety of different sources, the Bible teaches that there is only one source for real happiness. True joy comes from a heart that belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 17:22 actually goes as far as to say that “a broken spirit dries up the bones.” What concerns me about this verse is the realization that even a child of God can become a sack of dried up bones if we allow ourselves to forget the riches of Christ’s salvation. Jesus assures us that through Him, we may have peace. He promises, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). John 10:10 teaches us that Christ came not only to give us life, but to give us life “more abundantly.” Satan is the one that comes as a “thief,” attempting to steal, kill, and destroy. I once heard a pastor tell his congregation that it looked like they had been baptized in pickle juice. I think it’s a shame when the world finds more joy in their ungodliness than we do in our salvation.
I know that it’s often difficult to express joy in your current trials and situations. Let me encourage you to “let loose” and give up all hesitations today. Paul, who was beaten and persecuted by both men and Satan, was able to find a joy in the Lord through his unwavering trust in the sovereignty of God’s plan for his life. In his letter to the Philippians he instructs them to, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” (4:4-5). I wonder if “your forbearing spirit” is the key to Paul’s rejoicing in the Lord? The last part of this verse proclaims, “The Lord is near.” How huge this connection must be in the life of a Christian! If your spirit is often broken and your bones “dried up,” as Proverbs teaches, I ask you to evaluate where your eyes spend the majority of their time. Does your spirit become overwhelmed by the calamities around you, or is your heart joyfully set on the promise of Jesus Christ’s return for His children? The Apostle Paul was not a joyful person because of His easy life or his worldly riches, but because of the hope and assurance in Christ, held tightly within his heart. It is for this reason that he was able to proclaim, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in” (Philippians 4:11). Have you?
I challenge you to set your heart on the promises of Jesus Christ today and allow His joyful Spirit to return life to your dried up bones.