Friday, May 16, 2014
The Joy of the Lord Is Our Strength
“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
During my most recent bout with depression I pondered what the joy of the Lord actually is. I read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on this verse in Nehemiah and gained some insight.
The joy of the Lord comes from knowing God and who He is. He is our power, our protection, our wisdom, our guidance, our foundation, and our salvation. He is loving, forgiving, compassionate, and faithful.
This joy also comes from our personal relationship with God. We are reconciled, adopted, loved, and have the privilege of fellowship and communion with Him.
Knowing that every aspect of our lives and circumstances are under God’s goodness and sovereignty brings joy. Even through the most difficult times, God is accomplishing good for us.
The joy of the Lord also comes from serving and being obedient to Him. It can be very difficult to pray or praise or believe Scripture when we are suffering, but Jesus said when we obey we will have joy.
And how does this joy bring strength? As we focus on these sources of joy our faith and hope in God increase, strengthening us for future trials. Knowing all we have in God leads us to praise and thankfulness which also help carry us through dark times.
John Ortberg wrote, “Joy is at the heart of God. Joy is a command. Joy is strength and its absence will create weakness. God is the happiest being in the universe. And God’s intent was that his creation would mirror his joy.”
My depression and health issues may always make it challenging for me to feel joyful, but by God’s grace I want to keep striving for it. And if the feeling doesn’t come now, I want to live in faith for the endless eternal joy that is coming.
Prayer: O Lord, you know how hard it is for me to maintain joy through my sufferings. Regardless of my feelings, help me focus on all the reasons to be joyful in You and to remember that one day complete joy will be mine forever. Amen.