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  1. Hi Jennifer,

    What you have written here is the foundation of joy – knowing Jesus! I think it’s also important to note that some people experience depression and negative emotions in excess because of poor nutrition.
    What we eat (or don’t eat) affects our emotions. We’ve learned a lot about good nutrition from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Whatever the cause of negative emotions, it’s always a spiritual battle. Addressing the physical causes can make a big difference and make the battle easier – meet basic needs like fresh air, sunshine, enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy. Believe it or not, so many people overlook these basic needs in our Western culture.

    One of my favorite songs over the years is an old one I heard growing up. It’s one I often sing as an act of obedience when I’m in a bad mood. I’m still learning the truth that feelings follow faith and obedience. These are the lyrics:

    We bring a sacrifice of praise unto the house of the Lord (repeat)
    And we offer up to you the sacrifices of thanksgiving
    And we offer up to you the sacrifices of joy.

    Ha! I just found it on YouTube!

    For years I kept asking the Lord the same questions about joy and I finally did a word study (in the KJV) on “JOY.” It was amazing! I wrote down all the words that were associated with joy… words like song, praise, dance, noise, etc. Joy in Scripture is almost always connected with salvation that comes from the Lord (in Old and New Testaments).

    One of the biggest take-aways from my study of JOY was the context of Nehemiah 8:10: “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

    The Israelites are freshly returned to Jerusalem and ask Ezra to read the books of Moses to them. They are grieved when they understand the law of the Lord and they weep. That’s when they are told the verse above. It’s as if the Lord is telling them, “Don’t feel sorry for yourselves that you’ve done wrong and not known my law, but be strengthened by my joy that you have returned and go and serve the people around you who aren’t prepared for the feast!”

    I had been asking the Lord to teach me about self-pity and this was what He showed me in my study on JOY. “Don’t look back. Your sins are forgiven. Walk in newness of life!”

    Thanks for this post.

    1. Thank YOU, Katie, for this thoughtful comment. You make several excellent points — especially about how physical things like fresh air, sunshine, good nutrition, and adequate rest can all improve our joyfulness immensely. And I love the Bible study you’ve done on this topic!

  2. I loved this post. All great ways to cultivate happiness and true joy. May I have some advice? I am a Christian woman longing to be sanctified in this area. How do I remain encouraged to focus on the good and stay positive when my sinful nature seems to rise up at every turn? When I am praying and repeating relevant scripture passages and each day it is a near constant battle to be joyful? When my negative attitude (which is the product of idolatry) disgusts and repulses me yet still creeps in every hour and repentance seems to be a need every single minute? How do I stay encouraged to keep pressing on? Thank you for any advice any may have.

    1. The best way I know of to change your attitude is to change your focus. Establish new habits. Instead of being overly-introspective or constantly monitoring your own feelings (How do I feel about this? Am I being joyful? Are my thoughts uplifting? Am I praying enough? Am I positive enough?), turn your focus outward and get busy serving others (What is the most pressing need of my friend/spouse/child/neighbor right now? Is their anything I can do to address that need? What might I do to encourage them today? How can I pray for them?) Challenge yourself to do as many nice things for others as possible in secret, not expecting any acknowledgement or thanks for what you’ve done. Make a game of it. Sing or whistle while your work — cheerful, uplifting music is a great attitude adjuster. Of course, these are just humble suggestions drawn from my own experience. If your negativity stems from clinical depression or if it becomes debilitating, you may want to get the help of a professional.

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