Joy IS a choice. Also as the Bible tells us, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” So we really do want to choose joy!
One of the saddest things for me about the modern world is how we have falsely taught people that they are powerless, that they can’t help it, that they are hapless victims of whatever cards they have been dealt. So we are now thought to have been “born that way” or victims of our own mental health or the hapless products of our environment and always powerless over our feelings. We are allowed to engage in assorted forms of “self care” that all revolve around our alleged afflictions, but we aren’t allowed to ditch the affliction itself and choose something better.
I happen to be well qualified to write about such things since I am by nature a deep thinker, frequently quite melancholy, and constantly tempted by despair and depression. “Tempted” by it, not forced to live with it. Anything can knock at your door but that doesn’t mean you have to invite it in, make it tea, and begin to entertain it.
I know it sounds kind of crazy, but if someone can just self identify as a sea lion and allegedly make it so, then the rest of us can surely self identify as joyous, as sober minded too, but as if, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I self identify as His beloved and I actually have to work at it, everyday, kind of like eating, like refueling your soul. It doesn’t come naturally at all. So optimism, positive thinking, and joy are not my natural state of being. When the Lord started calling me to joy, to encouragement, to more positivity, I laughed outright, probably louder than Sarah once laughed.
In Genesis 21:6 Sarah says, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Joy is contagious, it is infectious, we need to be spreading that stuff all around. Laughter is so good for the soul! The Bible says, “a merry heart is good medicine.” It also helps to break the tension in a room and it reminds us to be humble, to not take ourselves and others so seriously.
Here is a study, and this one is at the CDC website, that talks about underlying medical conditions and covid 19. No surprises here but, “severe COVID-19 illness in adults has been linked to underlying medical conditions.” Obesity and diabetes are primary factors, but so is, “anxiety and fear-related disorders.”
Yeah, being fearful, stressed out, depressed, and anxiety ridden will weaken your immune system and make you sick, and once sick, less able to heal. That’s science talking, not me. This study I linked to is only one of many. So public health officials, politicians, parents, pastors, leaders of all sorts, have a moral obligation to calm fears, ease distress, and cultivate joy. I know some who have done just that all though this! I know some real heroes who have risen to the occasion just admirably.
And those leaders who have instead spread fear, glorified in the power of fear, profited off of fear, y’all need to resign. YOU are the public health hazard.