In today’s headlines of tragedies and chaos, it appears that good news falls further down the list of things to talk about, and even further is the subject “Joy”.
In the day to day operations of being a Chaplain; where EOL is front and center, one of the central things I invite others to share with me is “what gives you joy?” Often, it takes a moment for a response, or it may bring an immediate smile and warm story of remembrance. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but it does allow someone to reflect and share the moments and times that brought them the experience called “joy”. Webster defines ‘joy’ as an emotion / feeling of happiness that comes from success, good fortune, or sense of well-being”.
Take a moment, ask yourself what gives you joy or has given you joy? Have you taken the time to allow joy to be frequently present in your life or is it a far memory? Be encouraged today, to remember your “joy” for in whatever way it is defined for you.
There is joy that extends beyond the physical sense and allows us spiritually to embrace what God intends for all humankind. Surely, He wants us to be have joy, for its mentioned in the Old testament 155 times and the New Testament 63 approximate times from NIV version. This bares out that God wants us to experience this in the wholeness of our lives.
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). This scripture encourages us in being guided and being connected to God which will bring fullness, and pleasures (good things) that translate to “JOY.”
There are spiritual and physical benefits of this “Joy.” Spiritually speaking, it is not based on outside circumstances, but allows us a reassurance through our connectedness with God. Thus, it honors the Lord, it heals the spirit, it’s a complimentary element to love, and the list could go on. While on the other side, there are also physical benefits of “Joy.” When one experiences joy, it can be accompanied by laughter. The medical field has told us what the Bible has declared all along. How often we have heard the phrase, “laughter is good for the soul. The scripture “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones (Prov. 17:22). This is so true because sadness/brokenness brings us down and joy lifts us up. Some of those benefits are that joy and especially laughter can:
- Natural pain reducer
- It increases our ability to cope
- Exercise our facial muscles
- Increases the heart rate and improves circulation
- Oxygenates the body
- Stimulates the immune system
Often those who grieve feel that “joy” will never come again, or if there is a moment of joy and laughter, they are dishonoring their love one. Because they are grieving, they are supposed to be sad.
The good news for us and others, is that we can experience grief, and don’t have to feel guilty for also experiencing “joy” at the same time of an impactful life experience.
Thus, we have a win/win when we receive the spiritual land physical benefit of joy and laughter. May, you take time to remember joy, experience joy, share joy, and receive all the benefits of joy and laughter that God intended.
Rev. Dr. Vivian Short holds a B.S. in Sociology/Psychology, a Masters and PhD from Jacksonville Theological Seminary. She holds member affiliations with the National Christian Counselors Association, Licensed and Advance Certification as a Temperament Specialist, in addition to being certified through the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and is certified as a Grief Recovery Specialist through The Grief Recovery Institute. Rev. Short teaches and ministers in the area of grief to encompass the lifespan, meaning that the experience of “grief” is not isolated and/or just associated with death. She desires for others to understand the psychosocial dynamics of this human experience, and to receive and embrace the healing and peace God gives during this “dark night of the soul.” Rev. Dr. Vivian Short, better known by those she serves and those she works with as “Chaplain V”, is presently Hospice Chaplain for PruittHealth Hospice in Fayetteville, NC and feels truly blessed to bring all the facets of education, skill, compassion, and ministry to support patients and families who receive Hospice care.