Introduction: My wife teases me about always being the optimist.
However, even I understand how people can become discouraged. The
reasons for discouragement are sometimes obvious. This week I
visited a fellow who was just moved to the section of the medical
facility where people go to die. Although very physically fit, he
was brought to this point by a brain tumor. Others become
discouraged over what most would consider to be a very minor thing.
How can we keep a positive and happy outlook in life? How can we
have joy in life? Let’s jump into our study and see what the Bible

  1. Despair

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 9:5-9. Solomon writes of gladness and
      joy. Is that how do you feel after reading his words? (It
      is hardly a joyful message. He tells us that our lives
      are meaningless, and after we die people will forget all
      about us. Worse, no future reward awaits us.)

      1. Is it true that our lives are meaningless and that
        we have nothing to look forward to after death?
        (Read 1 Corinthians 15:19. Paul tells us that if we
        have only this life we are the most pitiful people
        on the planet.)

        1. Is there joy in a pitiful life?

        2. How can we explain Solomon’s words in
          Ecclesiastes? (Solomon is depressed. The man
          who has everything decides that life is pretty

          1. Can you relate to King Solomon’s words?

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Paul is going through a
      difficult time. What does he say should be our reaction
      to difficult times? (He says that he delights in
      difficult times.)

      1. Is Paul serious? Who delights in insults, hardships
        and persecutions?

        1. The fellow with the brain tumor knew that
          things were not going well. His wife suffers
          terribly from this drastic change in their
          lives. How can you delight in this kind of
          tragedy? (I was amazed to hear the wife of the
          brain tumor man tell me that this difficult
          experience had been a tremendous boost for her
          Christian walk. Their Christian friends had
          rallied around them.)

    3. When I walked out into the sunshine after visiting the
      fellow dying of a brain tumor I was grateful I was not in
      his place – but thought that it was perfectly possible
      that a stroke or something like that might happen to me
      in the future. Should we fear such a future? Will God
      keep us from this kind of thing? (My thoughts reflected
      my selfish heart. I do not want such a thing to happen to
      me, and I doubt many would. But, 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells
      us that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness.” At
      some point we can reach the mature attitude that whatever
      happens to us we will rest content in God.)

    4. Read Psalms 42:11. What should we do when we feel despair
      and depression? (We need to remember that Jesus is our
      Savior and our God. We can put our hope in Him. Praising
      Him helps to lift our despair.)

      1. Notice that “hope” is the basis for praise. What is
        the hope that Solomon overlooked in his depression?
        ( Revelation 21:1-4. A new heaven and new earth in
        which all pain, suffering and death have “passed

  2. Worry

    1. Read Luke 10:38-40. If an important person was coming to
      your home would you clean it and get some food ready?

      1. Why? (You do not want to look bad. You want to be a
        good host. You want that important person to speak
        well of you and to return!)

      2. Is Martha’s request for help reasonable?

    2. Read Luke 10:41-42. Can you relate to Martha’s situation?
      Are you “worried and upset about many things?”

      1. What does Jesus suggest is wrong with this? (Martha
        has the wrong focus. She is upset about things which
        do not matter.)

      2. Consider the things which have you upset today. Do
        they really matter? Will they matter a year from
        now? Ten years from now?

      3. My son graduated from medical school this past
        Sunday. We had “good” seats, but it was hard to see
        the stage. A huge television monitor helped us see.
        When my son’s name was called to receive his
        diploma, I was watching him in line. However, I
        decided that I would try to take a picture and this
        diverted my attention from his walk up the platform.
        I finally got my eyes to the monitor when he
        received his diploma. I failed to focus my attention
        solely on what counted – watching my son receive his
        medical degree. How many times is your life like

      4. Have you been reading the paper or watching
        television when your spouse or your children want to
        talk to you? (Sometimes we just need to sit down and
        decide what is important in life.)

  3. Joy

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Why is joy a goal for our
      lives? (I would love to feel joy every minute of life.)

      1. Is feeling joyful connected with praying all the
        time and giving thanks? (Consider how the parts of
        our lesson are connected. We get relief from
        depression by thanking God for giving us eternal
        life and the hope of a new heaven and new earth. We
        avoid worry by focusing on what is important – our
        relationship with God. Both of these are aspects of
        “pray[ing] continually,” and “giv[ing] thanks in all

    2. Read Proverbs 17:22. What impact does a cheerful attitude
      have on our health? (The Bible tells us that it is “good
      medicine.” On the other hand, a crushed spirit is hard on
      our health.)

    3. Read Proverbs 14:30. What does the avoidance of worry do
      for us? (Again, we see that our attitude has an impact on
      our health. If we are trying to keep up with the success
      of others, we injure our health.)

    4. Read Proverbs 15:13-15. What other benefits come from
      having a happy heart?

      1. Read Proverbs 15:16. How is this connected with the
        prior text? (The suggestion is that obeying God,
        rather than having wealth, helps us to live a happy
        and contented life.)

      2. Compare the effort you put forward to obey God with
        the effort you put forward to obtain wealth?

    5. Read Proverbs 5:22-23. What relationship is there between
      obedience to God and joy? (Sin snares us. It holds us
      fast. It creates all sorts of problems for us. Facing
      these problems, problems that we made, kill our joy. One
      very important aspect to living a life of happiness is
      obedience to God.)

    6. Friend, the Bible gives us the key to living a generally
      positive, worry-free life. Having these positive
      attitudes gives us better health. Will you commit today
      to asking God to help you to obey and to give you a more
      positive, joyful attitude?

  4. Next week: Nutrition in the Bible.