“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Her name is Kay, and she’s my mother-in-law, and without a doubt she’s the happiest person I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Kay’s happiness is contagious. There would have to be ice flowing in your veins not to break into a grin when Kay enters the room. Over the years as my mother-in-law has been deeply transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ, a sincere and powerful love for people has grown inside her, a cheerful love that embraces all and disarms all. Whether Kay’s changing a baby’s diaper or greeting one of the great potentates of industry (and she does both regularly), the same hearty chuckle wells up from within. And you can’t help but smile along.
The first half of today’s proverb is one of the most quoted of all the Proverbs, and its verity is universally recognized. Cheerfulness is good for the body. It’s healthy to be happy. The second half of the proverb, though not as well known, nonetheless does contain an equally recognized psychological principal. A crushed spirit or melancholy disposition will tend to manifest itself in physical infirmity. However, please remember that the proverbs are to be interpreted as principles, and not as promises. Cheerful people do become ill, and depressed people can be (otherwise) physically healthy. But those exceptions merely serve to prove the general rule that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Pharmacists of Cheerfulness
Granted, we come into this world with variations in temperament. Some people tend toward cheerfulness, while others tend toward melancholy. I count myself in that latter group! That’s why I need people like Kay in my life. We need those pharmacists of the merry heart to dispense the good medicine of cheerfulness for its psychological as well as physical benefits. To the reader who would describe herself or himself as a melancholy, I urge you to prayerfully and intentionally seek out friendships with Christian brothers and sisters who have the merry heart. We need them!
Christ’s Joy and Our Responsibility
Jesus said in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” This verse is found in the context of Jesus telling the disciples that He is the True Vine, and we are the branches. In a vital, dynamic relationship of faith with the Son of God, His joy overflows to us.
However, to return to the metaphor of the pharmacy, it’s our responsibility to drop off the Rx and pick up the meds. Is the marrow drying from your bones? Take some time alone with Jesus. Remember, re-claim, and re-apply the promises of the gospel to your life. Make a list of the things that are good in your life, for which you are grateful to God. Pray for a fresh anointing of His joy.
For further study, order yourself a copy of Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure.
Father God: I pray for the reader whose spirit is broken, and the marrow of joy has dried within. Touch the reader with the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus, and renew his or her joy this day. May cheerful, Godly laughter overflow. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.