“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
– Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

Practice was not going well. My high school soccer team looked awful! It had been a long season and the high hopes we had going into the year had been crushed by injuries and unforeseen distractions. As I watched the guys go through the motions, my blood pressure was rising. There was simply no enthusiasm or energy. I had coached long enough to know that even though their bodies were on the practice field, their hearts were not in it and their minds were somewhere else. The more I pushed and raised my voice, the worse they performed. In frustration I blew my whistle and called the team in to take a knee. It was obvious to everyone in the circle that nobody was having much fun. The situation called for a different approach. I divided the sixteen players into four teams and we headed for the tennis courts. For the next thirty minutes, we played tennis with a soccer ball. As the players worked frantically to get the ball over the net using only their feet and head, something amazing happened—their attitudes changed! The sparkle in their eyes returned, there was renewed energy. It was obvious from the shouts and laughter they were having fun.

The word joy appears over two hundred times in the Bible so God must think it’s important. However, the joy Scripture is talking about is very different from the shouts and laughter my team experienced during that unusual soccer practice. The joy the Bible describes is supernatural and it comes from God through the Holy Spirit. Are you joyful or has your spirit been crushed by difficult circumstances?  We need only look to our Heavenly Father. Joy is God’s will for us. Scripture says there is a time for everything. There is a time for teaching and there is a time for working hard. Surely, there must also be a time for fun and laughter as well.

Heavenly Father, remind me often of the reasons You called me to coach. Help me carry out my responsibilities in a way that will honor and glorify You. Fill me each day with the same joy I felt when I turned my life over to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.