I heard the words “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength” this morning. I have heard those words a few times and I knew it was scripture but I never looked up the actual verse and the context surrounding it. The Lord put it on my heart to look it up. He told me “don’t get so comfortable with just repeating words without knowing the TRUE context.”
There are so many quotes that we have heard growing up that we took as “bible” but they are nowhere to be found in the word.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness”
“Money is the root of all evil” (before you come for me and say “Brittany that is in the bible- NO IT ISN’T- It’s “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil”, 1 Tim 6:10)
“God will not give you more than you can handle”- wrong AGAIN!- the scripture is: We all experience[a] times of testing,[b] which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face[c] so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape[d] that will bring you out of it victoriously. 1Cor 10:13
These are just a few that I know I have heard said SO MANY times and since they sound good and are encouraging in the moment I would go along with them. WELL IT IS TIME OUT FOR THAT.
(This post is not about me trying to get everybody together to be biblically sound although there would be nothing wrong with that.)
I am writing this post actually as encouragement. For you, for me, FOR WHOEVER needs it.
When I went and looked up the scripture surrounding the words “The Joy of the Lord is My strength” I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it wasn’t just its own scripture. It follows other dialogue from Nehemiah to the Israelites. Here it is- see it for yourself.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”
I am going to be honest I didn’t really understand what Nehemiah meant. Call me slow but I needed more explanation.
I did a little research. Checked out some commentaries.
THEN IT CLICKED.
I have always looked at these words as encouragement- and don’t get me wrong they are but not necessarily how we view JOY.
I am going to be PRETTY frank with you all right now. I am going through A LOT. This is what would probably be considered a wilderness season for me. I am in a valley. I am facing the “shadows” of death. TIMES ARE HARD.
BUT I am the closest to God that I have ever been. This was by force at first BUT now I am making a deliberate choice to be closer to Him.
I am at a place where HE alone is my source. Not neglecting the people that he has given me to uplift me because they are absolutely necessary and a TRUE BLESSING to me but this season requires more of me to be quiet and kneel before God rather than running my mouth and running to people.
In this hard season I have started to learn what it means to worship God through all circumstances. I am not saying that in the midst of me crying and asking God why that I just break out into a song and dance praising God. That is not the case but it amazes me that I can be in the midst of tears or a full blown anxiety attack and I can feel the Holy Spirit telling me to worship and think about how good God has been. Slowly but surely I feel my soul shifting from utter devastation and hurt to complete surrender to the goodness and faithfulness of God. This has come with a lot of rejection to my flesh and sometimes my flesh STILL wins but lately the Holy Spirit has been the victor.
So when I saw what these words from Nehemiah actual meant I was SO ENCOURAGED.
See usually when we view joy we see it as “rainbows and butterflies”. We see joy as laying on the beach, sipping something fruity. We see it as the birth of a baby or a wedding day. We see it as whatever you could think of the best thing happening to you is. This is what we as humans consider joy but really these circumstances provoke joy.
BUT THE JOY OF THE LORD— it’s… well it’s different.
The joy of the Lord is when you are stuck in the house for 65 days because we are in a pandemic and you choose to see the brighter side anyway. It’s when you THOUGHT you would have 3 or 4 kids by now but you have none and you still can love on your best friend’s kids through you hurt. It’s when you thought marriage was lasting and it ends abruptly and you still find a way to not be bitter and to support others in their marriages.
IT IS STRENGTH.
This joy comes with restoration. With realizing that your circumstances are NOT ideal but God is still faithful.
This joy reminds us of how you walked through the valley of the “shadow” of death before and you didn’t fear ANY evil because your Shepard was guiding you.
This joy reminds you that although you want things to look pretty on the outside that the inside is where you must rebuild from and until that happens you are living a lie.
THIS joy shifts your perspective from WHOA is ME to WORSHIPPING!
This is the joy that I am asking God to lather on me. In this time of uncertainty and disappointment. I need the joy that comes directly from GOD that doesn’t make me happy BUT makes me stronger.
It makes me stand in the face of my issue with the entire armor of Christ on. It shows me when the mountain is in my way- in the midst of the valley-- HE IS MY STRENGTH.
My prayer for you is the same. That you can find “Joy” in the hardest of situation and the most amazing situations-- in ALL of your circumstances.
Scriptures to reference:
Song of Encouragement: Hillsong United- Highlands (Song of Ascent)
Until Nothing’s Left
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.