the joy of the Lord is our strength


Category : God, faith, hope, trust


Life has a way of overwhelming us.  It’s easy to get distracted, to lose focus, and to simply make poor choices.  For the next few days we’re taking a look at phrases that help us keep our bearings so we make the right choices, not the easy choices.      

No matter who you are or what you do, you will face stress, trouble, and pain.  It’s just a fact of life.  Some of us face more than our share.  In the midst of all this stress and pain we have to find ways to deal with that reality.  Often we turn to God, expecting him to act like Santa Claus and simply give us a bunch of goodies.  The truth is, God doesn’t always solve our problems for us.  So if we’re waiting for God to bring us out of poverty, or bring back a lost love, or in my case the return of Voltron to TV, we may never be satisfied. 

But just because God doesn’t always miraculously solve our problems, doesn’t mean we are allowed to sit around doing nothing.  Or worse, feel sorry for ourselves.  God wants us to be active.  He wants us to be engaged in the present.  He knows that if we wait for our lives to be perfect before we act, we’ll probably never do anything.  

But how do we act when things feel so overwhelming?

Over the last few years I’ve probably heard Chris Tomlin sing ”Holy is the Lord” 100 times.  But it wasn’t until recently that one line in that song really struck me.  He says, ”the Joy of the Lord is our strength.”  I began asking myself, what if my strength really comes from knowing God is happy with my life?  What if the way to overcome the pain and challenges of life is to embrace God’s joy?  What if his joy is more powerful than any other thing I can do?

I’ve always wondered how some Christians can bear unimaginable suffering but still hold onto their faith.  I think it’s because they understand this – that no amount of suffering, no amount of treasure, no amount of praise, is worth giving up God’s joy in our lives. 

There’s nothing in my life that ranks as particularly traumatic.  I’m not facing death or torture.  Although getting ready for another season of reality TV sure feels like that.  But God does ask me to do things I’m not comfortable with.  He asks me to engage in people’s lives when I’d rather watch TV.  He asks me to trust him, when I’d rather trust my bank account.  As I look at these decisions, they scare me.  That’s usually when I feel the panic raising up.  So I remind myself, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  And that’s enough to help me stay focused.

Perhaps this is best summed up by Bill Hybels in The Volunteer Revolution, “I’ve never known joy outside of pursuing God’s calling on my life.  Whenever I’ve wandered even five degrees off that course, I’ve lost the sense of God’s smile that I can’t live without.”

I’m beginning to see just how true this is.

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