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Where is the Joy?

I've been struggling to hold onto joy lately!  Oh, who am I kidding?  Half the time I can't even find it!  So I decided to investigate!  Dig deeper!  What does God's word say about JOY!


Nehemiah says to the people - after they have heard God's word, repented, felt awful, depressed and disheartened by how much they have hurt God and done wrong, they feel badly because they know they are in the situation they are in, because of their own behaviour, and fully due God's wrath - he tells them:
"Then he said to them, “Go your way.  Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord.  And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” " - Nehemiah 8 vs 10

So, The joy of the Lord is my strength!  What does that even mean?  I decided enough already Tracy, go figure it out!

Why is God's joy my strength?  I went to read some commentaries and the following is what I found:
  • for the joy of the Lord is your strength - literally means - delight in Jehovah is a strong refuge!  Don't you love that?  Delighting in the Lord gives us strength.
  • Religious joy is the natural result of faith - Ouch!  The more our faith grows and the more we practice that faith, the more our joy in the Lord, the greater our strength.  
  • When our faith is low, our joy is low.  I rested here a bit.  Is my faith low?  
  • The Gospel works joy, because the soul is at rest in God.  We need to absorb what the gospel means, what Jesus did for us, how that impacts us, and in understanding that is great joy.
  • Faith in Christ naturally works gladness (joy)
The joy of the Lord - rejoicing in God - is our strength.  
To rejoice in God, in all He has done for us, in all His promises, in His salvation of us, in the sacrifice of His son for us, therein lies our strength.

One commentary says that it is natural to be sad in sad circumstances, happy in happy circumstances and that to be led by our emotions in that manner is fairly normal.  But, we do have a choice.  We can choose to either:
  • Go stand in the light, or you can go stand in the shadow.  You can either fix your attention upon a truth which will make you glad (joyful) and strong, or a half-truth which will make you sorrowful, therefore weak.  
  • Your meditations (thoughts) can either be on yourself and your faults and failings (or on those who hurt you, or your past), or they may centre on Christ and His grace, on the Holy Spirit and His companionship
  • You may either fill your soul with joyful thoughts or you may be so misapprehending (missing the point) of the gospel and your relation to it, its promises and precepts, etc, that you forget you are forgiven and justified, and instead wallow in self-pity, thus cancelling out your joy, and becoming weak.
The commentary goes on to say that the joy of the Lord is a duty.  It is our responsibility to focus on the things of God which will bring us joy.  It is to be a deliberate action, an obedience to the word, to focus on Christ and not on our circumstances or our own failings.  

We can do much to regulate our emotions.  We do not have to ignore our emotions.  Not at all.  God made us emotional beings.  But, we can refocus, we can choose.  We do this by determining on what we focus.  What set of thoughts are we going to focus on in this moment? 

"To lose thoughts of ourselves in God's truth about Himself is our duty."  Did you see that?  To turn our thoughts to Him and away from ourselves is an act of faith that leads to joy and therefore strong in Him as He would have us be.  

If we do these things we cannot fail to have Christ's joy remaining in us, making us full.  


Much faith results in much joy and much faith comes from a lifetime of continuously focusing and re-focusing on Christ, God's word, trusting His promises, remembering His sacrifice.  It is a day by day deliberate thing.  

So how is the joy of the Lord our strength?  
  • If we are full of joy, we are strong against temptation
  • If we are full of joy, we are strong against suggestion to our weaknesses and flesh
  • If we are full of joy, we are strong against thoughts of fear
  • Fullness of joy protects you in your brokenness
  • Fullness of joy helps you to persist in endurance
  • Fullness of joy helps your repel the fiery darts of the enemy 
All because the JOY OF THE LORD (rejoicing in Him, who He is, what He has done, His promises, His word, His truth) is our STRENGTH (ability to stand, growth of faith, confidence in Christ)

To summerize:
  • You are weak without joy
  • you have no joy unless your hope and faith are fixed on Christ
  • You have to focus and refocus continually your whole life on the things of the Lord, in order for your faith to grow, and thereby, your joy to grow and be full.
  • You can choose, you can determine, you can select your thoughts.  Choose wisely for the joy which renders you strong in Christ.
Phil 4 vs 4:  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  
It is a command!  Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice!  Do it!  Rejoice in Him!

I hope you are encouraged.  I have been.  I now know I am responsible for my joy by focusing on the Lord, His word, the Gospel of Christ, His promises, and that by doing so my faith will grow, and thus my joy will be full and be my strength, to endure, to resist temptation, to reject fear, all because I focus on Christ.  Its quite circular actually...

God bless
Tracy

Comments

  1. I went on a journey seeking an answer to this question about joy: How do you live joy when those you love struggle? I found that 1) I had to give myself permission to live joyful - because God does, and 2) Living joy is living Hope in what I do not see but live in Faith for the outcome. You are so right my friend - living joy is a choice - and that choice affects everything about our lives. I like how you discuss needing to refocus our thoughts - that has been like training a muscle that keeps going out on me - so that it will be consistently strong. You've made me smile today - one of my very favorite topics!

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    1. Hi Maryleigh, you are so right. Funny your perspective was from finding joy whilst others around you struggle. It is definitely something that has become more real in my circumstances. Thank you for coming over and reading my post. I appreciate it muchly :)
      God bless

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  2. Yep, it is our choice, a choice we must make daily. Good introspective questions there, Tracy :) I am working on a video series where I will also try to tackle this by giving short tips!

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    1. Hi Marja, thank you. For me the Christian walk is a practical walk and giving tips is, I think, very important . Many times I read something and think, "well, yes that makes sense, but how?" Its one of the things I love about your book I have. It is very practically inclined, thus a great tool for the reader :)
      God bless

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  3. How wonderful it is to have the kind of freeing joy that is based not upon efforts, but on what Jesus has done.

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