Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Nourishing Effect of Joyfulness

As has already been explored here this month, providing life-giving food is one important way we nourish ourselves and our families; however, it is certainly not the only way.  Nourishing the body is more than just consuming healthy food and drink. One crucial way we nourish our families (and ourselves) is through maintaining a joyful spirit.  

Consider these verses from the Amplified version of the Bible:

Proverbs 17:1 -- "Better is a dry morsel with quietness than a house full of feasting [on offered sacrifices] with strife." 

Proverbs 17:22 -- "A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."  

Proverbs 15:13 -- "A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken." 

Joyfulness is an essential ingredient to a nourishing life!  

Joyfulness Nourishes Our Relationship with God.

God commands that we give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  When we obey this command, God rewards our obedience by filling us with His peace and joy.  But what happens when we refuse to thank God for hard things?

"When I pout instead of being joyful, grumble instead of praying, and complain instead of giving thanks, I am in effect telling God that he is mishandling my life and I don't like it. At that point, I have ceased to put my faith in my sovereign Lord and have chosen to put my faith in my circumstances. In other words, I am telling God and myself, that if my circumstances change, then and only then can I be happy. Until then, I have nothing to be thankful for. And that, according to Paul, is when I step out of God's will."   (Seasons of a Mother's Heart, by Sally Clarkson)

Maintaining a thankful, joyful attitude brings spiritual and physical blessings and fosters an intimate relationship with Christ.  

Consider these excerpts from the month of November from the outstanding devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young -- 

"A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven. . . "

"Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me.  A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems.  Instead it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations. . . "

"Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I  have instructed you to give thanks for everything.  There is an element of mystery in this transaction.  You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings) and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). . .  "

"Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My Thoughts. . . . "

"This is the day that I have made.  As you rejoice in this day of life, it will yield up to you precious gifts and beneficial training.  Walk with Me along the high road of thanksgiving, and you will find all the delights I have made ready for you.  To protect your thanksgiving, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely.  A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians.  They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts.  Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.  How precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times.  They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them. . . "

"Every time you thank Me, you acknowledge that I am your Lord and Provider.  This is the proper stance for a child of God: receiving with thanksgiving.  Bring Me the sacrifice of gratitude, and watch to see how much I bless you."  

Nurturing a thankful, joyful attitude is one of the most important things we can do to develop a closer, more meaningful relationship with God.

Joyfulness Nourishes our Marriages.

Proverbs 21:9 says, "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and fault-finding woman."  (Amplified version)

Men are attracted to happy, smiling, grateful women.  In fact, I have a hunch that being a thankful, contented wife will get you far better mileage than being drop-dead gorgeous!  As we all know, physical beauty is fleeting, and even a beautiful woman can make herself ugly through her words and attitude.

Debi Pearl, in her no-nonsense, plain-speaking style puts it this way --  "Always remember that the day you stop smiling is the day you stop trying to make your marriage heavenly, and it is the first day leading to your divorce proceedings."  (Created to be His Help Meet, p. 32)

She emphasizes that it is God's will for a wife to have a merry heart and a cheerful countenance that refreshes her husband.  Regardless of our circumstances, contentment and joy are choices we make that nourish our husbands and our marriages.

Proverbs 15:15 says, "All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]."  (Amplified version)

Our marriages can be a continual feast, if we will just remember to cultivate a happy heart!

Joyfulness Nourishes Our Children.

According to Debi Pearl, "The most important thing a mother will do for her children is to create an atmosphere of peace and joy by deeply loving their Daddy and being satisfied with life."  (Created to be His Help Meet, p. 177)

She also shares this secret -- "A wise woman sets a joyful mood in her home.  Through laughter, music, and happy times, she creates a positive attitude in her children.  She knows that a lighthearted home relieves her husband of stress."  (Created to be His Help Meet, p. 35)

I've come to believe that creating a joyful, loving home atmosphere and seeking to "tie heart strings" with our children is one of the most important things we can do as a mother.   A harsh, legalistic upbringing where children feel that they can never measure up is usually a recipe for disaster.  

I love the way Sally Clarkson puts it in Seasons of a Mother's Heart, "If you really desire to reach your children's hearts for Christ, you cannot do so until you build a deep and trusting relationship with each child.  They must feel that they can find no better confidant, no more loyal friends, no greater encourager, no one who better understands their thoughts and dreams, fears and doubts, joys and hurts.  And even though they understand that you want to help them grow to maturity in Christ, they must also sense that you accept them just as they are, and love them no matter what they do."  (p. 106)

Joyfulness Nourishes Our Own Bodies.

It is no secret that anger and bitterness affect our physical health as well as our mental health. There are numerous research studies and articles that document that fact.

But, did you realize that a joyful spirit even protects your bones??

Proverbs 17:22 teaches that a happy heart and cheerful spirit brings health, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. God's Word is so Practical and contains a treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge, if we will just take the time to search it out.  As I read this verse, I started thinking about osteoporosis and decided to do a little research.  Sure enough, a simple Google search revealed a number of articles (such as this one and also this one) that revealed the link between depression and osteoporosis!!   Truly a broken spirit does dry up the bones, making them weak and brittle!

Surely, there is no greater investment we can make in our own health and that of our families than to develop a joyful, contented spirit.

"Joy begins with thankfulness:  Thankfulness is how you think; joy is the abundance it produces." -- Debi Pearl

1 comment:

Finding Balance mommy said...

Thank you for those words! I needed them very much today.

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