I don’t know many people who wake up in the morning and say, “I want to be depressed and sad today.” Yet many people carry around burdens and sorrow each day that aren’t theirs to carry. God’s Word has a lot to say about having a joyful heart. Proverbs 15:13 says,
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance,” revealing that our hearts affect our attitude and even our appearance.
and Proverbs 17:22 says,
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
What a powerful statement! Merriment is like medicine to our bodies, and a broken spirit is just the opposite. You may ask, “But how can I have a merry heart?” Jesus tells us to “be of good cheer” even in trouble (John 16:33). Why? Because He has overcome the world. Hallelujah! Our hearts will follow the course we chart for them, just as a captain guides his ship. We can steer our hearts toward happiness or sadness by the things we focus on. Proverbs 4:23 says,
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
So your victory will be determined not by what comes at you, but by what comes from you.
How can we embrace this concept when it seems to contradict our experience? Jesus invites us to study what He calls the “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matt. 11:29, The Message). When our lives or emotions spin out of control, it’s an indication that we’ve fallen out of rhythm with God’s grace. We’re allowing something to tip the scales. Sometimes we will find it necessary to reject what seems good so that we can say yes to God’s best. And that happens by focusing our attention on the Lord and not on outside pressures.
Jesus said He came so that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Think of all that Jesus went through for you so that you could walk free. You have permission to enjoy your life and live in the victory that His blood bought for you. And if this was the only reason to have a merry heart, it would be enough. But God has showered His goodness on us in multiple ways!
Connecting with your spouse, playing with your kids, spending time with friends—these are all investments that inspire joy. Enjoying your family and the life God’s given you will help you live in the rhythm of grace. Life happens from the inside out. Enjoying your loved ones, living in unity, and appreciating God’s amazing blessings are all ways to cultivate a merry heart and reap its many rewards.