With a sneer, you may have clicked open this post. The Joy of the Lord. Ha! Whoever wrote this must have cried over nothing more than a stubbed toe.
Not true. I don’t dare compare my sorrows with yours, but please accept the fact that I’ve filled up my own bottles of tears. And yes. I’ve found the joy of the Lord is my strength.
A little history first.
I always thought the phrase, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” came from the Psalms. It doesn’t. Although there are plenty of verses referring to the Lord as your strength, refuge, or strong tower.
The verse comes out of Nehemiah. Chapter 8 verse 10. The exiled Israelites had returned to their land with the Persian king’s blessing. They had rebuilt the temple and the wall around Jerusalem. Ezra read the neglected scriptures to them, and they realized how ignorant and disobedient they had been to their own faith. They wept.
But Nehemiah owned a different attitude. He encouraged them. He told them (my paraphrase), “Don’t weep. This is a holy day. You are a group who has obeyed the Lord. Now, you can teach your children what is good and right in God’s eyes. So, eat. Drink. Share with those who don’t have enough. The joy of the Lord is your strength!”
These people had been deprived of their homeland. After severe harassment, they had persevered with a new temple and city wall to prove their God was stronger than anything else on earth. Although they still were subject to another nation, at least, they had “come home.” JOY!
Years ago, a praise chorus, “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength,” was popular.
It also spoke of living water and healing broken hearts. More reason for joy! But at the same time, “broken hearts” proves God is quite aware that His people live in a fallen world and not all of life is cuddly puppies and giant lollipops. When I’m having a bad day, the Holy Spirit often brings that praise chorus to mind. And on good days, joyful songs bubble out of me “from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.”
Life Is Beautiful
The whole world has spent the last two years dealing with a pandemic. Not only with sickness and death, but the economic, emotional, and educational fallout from closed businesses and schools. Where is the strength? How can anything be joyful about that? Let me give you an example of how people shared their joy as the virus took hold.
One of my favorite movies is titled Life Is Beautiful, the story of a man and his son who were placed in a concentration camp in World War II. He taught his son to find beauty in their world, even in the midst of filth and violence and death.
Each of us has passed through or will pass through a season of sorrow, of sickness, of bleeding from wounds caused by the violence or carelessness of another. Can you find strength? Yes! Can you know joy? Yes! Because Jesus is right beside you, lending His strength and filling your soul with calm waters.
Have you found joy in the midst of sorrow? In the midst of pain? Would you share with me how God brought you that blessing?
And if you haven’t found joy but would like to, please let me know. I will pray for you.