“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” — Proverbs 17:22, NIV
When was the last time you smiled? Take a second and think of something you’re thankful for or something that brings you happiness.
Proverbs 12:22 says that a cheerful heart is good medicine. There are occasions when we may feel downhearted and upset in life. It is an unfortunate reality. So, it is important we know how to handle these moments and emotional experiences.
Moments of cheerfulness and joy are all around us. Taking a glass-half-empty approach to life might be tempting, but as Christians we know, through Jesus Christ, we already have eternal victory.
We will encounter all types of human emotions; that is how God designed us. However, we know even in the middle of our struggles we are loved by God and we can “take heart” because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Overflowing With Joy and Hope
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 15:13, NIV
Joy and hope are fundamental to having a cheerful heart and positive outlook. In fact, joy is the second fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians. Joy does not require us to constantly feel positive emotions. Joy does not come from us; it comes from Jesus.
Without hope in Christ, we would be lost. Hope for Christians is something so much deeper than longing. Hope is belief and confidence in the promises of the Lord. With hope, we can stay positive in what God said in His word.
Joy and hope sound all good and fine but living joyfully and with hope is often harder than we divulge. Modern media and culture make it appear that looking at the bright side should come easy. However, having a joyful attitude is about more than how we feel, more than what we post on social media and more than we can attain on our own.
Having a cheerful heart and hope does not have to do with our own power, but rather relying on God and trusting Him. He is the source of joy and hope and giving our hearts to Him is what fills us.
Avoiding Toxic Positivity as Christians
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28, NIV
Perhaps, we may struggle with toxic positivity or try to an extreme extent to keep on the sunny side. What is toxic positivity? Toxic positivity varies for different people but some signals of toxic positivity may include:1
- Trying to force others to be positive and shaming them if they are not
- Covering up or avoiding negative emotions
- Feelings of shame when one does not feel happy
- Hiding feelings or difficulties from other people to appear positive
- Pushing away problems or negative feelings rather than dealing with them appropriately
This can be dangerous for both us and other believers around us. Toxic positivity puts the expectation on us that we need to be happy 100% of the time, which is impossible. There are times when it is completely appropriate to be sorrowful and upset. As Ecclesiastes 3:4 puts it, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Joy does not equal constant happiness. These two things are very different as happiness is only a temporary emotion. Toxic positivity may make us think it is wrong to be sad or troubled. This is false.
Even Jesus displayed a whole range of emotions during his ministry on earth. He got emotional, cried and experienced anger. We can too. We do not have to dismiss emotions or cover our problems in a veil of false positivity.
The joy that Jesus offers is much sweeter and lasting than the happiness or positivity we could ever create for ourselves. It gives us hope for the future. No matter our emotions or problems, we have that as a constant during our lifetimes.
Cheerful Words and Encouragement
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” — Proverbs 12:25, NIV
In situations where someone is dejected or struggling, kindness and compassion go a long way. Being a positive encouragement can be extremely influential to someone.
Proverbs 12 goes as far as to say a kind word can cheer up the heart. We should never underestimate the power of the hope God has given us and the effect a cheerful heart can have on those around us. Read more in other Weekly Devotional blogs.
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1Retrieved from Verywell Mind, What is Toxic Positivity? in July 2022.
Approved by the Global Outreach Coordinator of The Department of Spiritual Life on Aug. 25, 2022
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.