Lately I’ve been so aware of the heartache of life. Situations that people find themselves in where there actually is a physical response to emotional pain. A literal heart ache. In talking, thinking and praying through these situations I keep coming back to the words ‘The Joy of the Lord is my strength’. The phrase comes from Nehemiah 8:10 in which we are instructed ‘Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’.
I think it’s one of those wonderful things we say to people who are grieving but I never want to be someone who just says things for the sake of saying things and so it warranted further thought.
I’ve never been more aware of the acute difference between Joy and Happiness. Happy is an emotion, joy is state of mind. Happy is temporary, Joy is eternal. There’s something so powerful about true joy and I think that’s why we tell people ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength’. It’s not some iffy wiffy statement that proclaims, if you are happy and you just try a little bit harder to find some ‘joy’ in this trial, there you will find your strength. Fooey! Anyone who tells someone that, hasn’t been through heart ache or is having you on.
Have you ever met someone with true joy? So often it seems like nothing gets them down, that somehow they turn every hardship into opportunity. These are people who have grasped pure joy. People with joy aren’t easily beaten, they aren’t easily bruised and when they are, they have the strength to rise and try again.
If true joy seems a little unattainable, or a little too tough at times the best news that I have is that it’s the joy OF the Lord that is your strength. Supernatural and complete joy only comes from God. Let his joy and delight be your joy and delight. It won’t fix your problems, but you will find strength in pain.
1 Chronicles 16:27
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.