A lot of research has been done to support the claim, that laughter is good for the mind and body. Solomon spoke of a joyful or merry heart being like medicine. Many people live their lives in search of happiness. The church often makes the distinction between joy and happiness, although the actual definitions are interchangeable. Nehemiah once instructed the people of God about the importance of being happy. The people were weeping after Ezra read the law of God to them. Nehemiah offered them consolation. “Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Can we determine whether or not we have joy and peace? Does joy depend on our economic or relationship status for example? There are people who are unfortunately living in abusive relationships. In these cases, it will be difficult for them to experience joy, while they remain in these relationships. The challenge is that many people who are abused, feel trapped in these situations. It takes the grace of God, to escape abusive situations and to find peace and joy. Debt and financial deprivation can also lead to feelings of depression. It is in trusting God that a person can successfully navigate their way out of debt.
In both instances, counselling and support can go a long way. Most people are dealing with one challenge or another and have a need that has not been met. How do we maintain joy and happiness while we wait for God to resolve our situation? “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it” (Proverbs 15:16). Solomon was not saying that it was bad to have great treasure, but that wealth gained unjustly will not produce joy. Many people scheme their way into positions of power. Gaining wealth through unjust means will often mean that you have to continue to be dishonest in order to maintain it.
Some of the scriptures that speak about joy suggests that it is a choice. There are people who experience clinical depression and anxiety and struggle to regulate their emotions. We do believe that God can heal the mind and emotions, even for people with a diagnoses. For the average person, many lifestyle choices can affect the quality of our mental health. What we read and feed our minds with, what we watch on television, the friends and people that we associate with, are all contributing factors to our mental health. A good balanced diet, regular exercise, having good friends with a positive attitude, meditation and prayer are all antidotes for stress and anxiety.
While some conditions are outside of our control, there are things that boils down to our lifestyle choices. We reap the fruits of good works and healthy choices often lead to positive outcomes. “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you” (Proverbs 3:1-2).