Joy is a diet (not a pill)

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…” (Psalm 16:11)

We live in the age of the quick-fix. Instant gratification is on the menu.

If I have a craving for a cheeseburger I can go to a drive-thru window. If I want my house to be warmer I press a button. If I have a headache I take a pill.

In a previous time none of this was possible.

When we live in the age of the quick-fix, we can mistakenly think that because we can do some things quickly that we should be able to do all things quickly—even when it comes to things like finding joy.

However, it’s more nuanced than that, isn’t it?

John Calvin defines joy as “eternal stability.”* It is that deep and abiding confidence that God is good and wise, and that he is providing for you and caring for you through thick and thin. It is that deep and abiding confidence in who Jesus is and what he has done for you—forever. 

With this in mind the experience of joy is more like a diet than a pill. Here’s what I mean. God has given us beliefs and practices which ground us in this joy—our knowledge of and confidence in this “eternal stability” which we are given in Christ. When we engage in these beliefs and practices, it is like a spiritual diet which, over time, nourishes us in joy.

One of the reasons I say this is so that you don’t fall victim to the quick-fix mentality that joy is a pill you can pop. The other reason I say this is to encourage you to look at your spiritual diet.

Are you trusting that God is with you, and that in him there is always hope, and that you are a meaningful part of the body of Christ? Are you being diligent in your prayers to God, and in serving others, and in your commitment to weekly worship and rest?

If so, you most likely have a good diet! No, not the South Beach Diet or the Mediterranean Diet or the Vegan Diet, but the Joy Diet! 

Joy is a diet, not a pill. Eat well.


Podcast: “Making margin in your life for discipleship—a talk with Sarah Han.” Click here to listen, or look for ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan’ wherever you subscribe to podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible or TuneIn.

Sermon: “Finding joy when you don’t feel it.” February 5, 2023. Click here to watch or listen.

–*John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: The Gospel According to St. John, Part Two 11-21 and The First Epistle of John, trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1959), 125.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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