A Merry Heart and a Joyful Mom

We are right smack in the middle of the school year, which could mean we are struggling with negative thoughts about finishing school up. Personally, I have also just had one of the most exciting days of my life. With that combination, I wanted this Mom’s Corner to be uplifting. I would like to look at several Scriptures that could encourage and lighten our hearts.

Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . . .” While this verse, in context, is speaking negatively, I believe we can apply it in the positive as well. What about, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine . . .” (Proverbs 17:22)? Our thoughts, in some measure, determine the emotions that are a part of our heart reactions to things.

On Nathan’s wedding day, I had a choice to make. I could dwell on my personal sadness of having a son, whom I have loved dearly for twenty-five years and who has lived with us all that time, marry and leave home. I could also choose to think about the joy and delight he would experience on his wedding day and as he began his new life with his bride.

When I put my thoughts on Nathan and his happiness, it made my heart merry. That was truly good medicine, because I was able to go through the whole wedding ceremony without shedding a tear. I always cry at weddings! I didn’t think it was possible to make it through any wedding without tears, and certainly not my own son’s!

Proverbs 15:15 says, “. . . he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” Sometimes a merry heart is simply a by-product of feeling happy. Then it is easy; we just act the way we feel. When I am getting ready for my read-aloud time with the children, my heart is merry. I naturally love these moments each day, looking forward to them with anticipation.

Other times I must choose to have a merry heart. I have discovered, in the midst of discouragement, depression, and negativism, that I can make a choice to have a merry heart. It is never easy, though. As is true with each day, it becomes even more important that I am having daily time with the Lord reading His Word and that I am communing with Him in prayer. While I must make the choice about where my thoughts will be, He is the One Who accomplishes the work. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). This grows out of the intimacy of my relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are certain times of the month I wake up feeling entirely different than I do on other days. I don’t want to face the day at all, but I must. At that point I have a choice to make. Will I act according to my feelings, or will I put on a merry heart that I don’t feel? It begins with a heart that cries out to the Lord for help, acknowledging dependence on Him. The Lord’s grace is sufficient: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When I feel irritable, unhappy, surly, tense, or on edge, I can acknowledge to the Lord the negative emotions I am having. I can pray for His enabling to overcome them. Then I can also choose to walk out of my bedroom greeting my family with a happy voice, while cheerfully loving and hugging my family members—even though I don’t feel a bit sweet or loving.

I am not being a hypocrite if I act happy when I am not feeling that way. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” Scripture tells me that I am to count my troubles as joy; this is obedience.

I remember once hearing a godly man say, “Obedience isn’t hard when we are doing something we like and want to do. However, when to be obedient means going against our feelings, then we see true obedience.”

I can’t “count it all joy” if I am crying, angry, irritated, frustrated, or feeling sorry for myself. This joy does not come from a heart that thinks about and focuses on its troubles. This joy comes from a merry heart—one that is able to rest in the Lord knowing He is in charge of everything that happens to me.

Our joy develops from what comes out of our mouths. “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). When I have given a sweet, loving response to a question one of my children has asked me, my heart is happy. However, when I am short or irritable with that child, my heart condemns me.

Here again, my joy comes directly from the choices I am making. Will I decide to follow Christ’s way, allowing the fruit of the Spirit to guide my lips? Will I give in to my selfishness, finding instead that, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)?

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalms 113:9). I was reminded of this verse while Sarah and I were reading A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George.

Elizabeth George shared several ways that she incorporated being a “joyful mother of children” into her home when her children were young. One of these was to use the positive words “I love” for every good aspect of their lives. She told her children that she loved praying for them, praying with them, going for walks with them, family dinners, family devotions, the Lord’s Day, and much more.

Don’t our happy, positive words demonstrate a joyful spirit? Even if we aren’t feeling joyful, won’t they move us in the right direction if we speak them anyway? If these kinds of words are a part of our daily habit of conversation, it will be much easier to say them when we are not actually feeling them.

Let me repeat for you one more time these verses that have to do with a merry heart and joy. Please don’t skip over them, but read them carefully.

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalms 113:9).

“. . . he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15).

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23).

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine . . .” (Proverbs 17:22).

If you don’t have a merry heart or joy, please start by talking to the Lord about it and asking Him for His help. May each of us make the choice to have a merry heart and be filled with joy! May we all truly be joyful mothers of children!