Pop Pop Epistle #13 – “The joy of the Lord is your strength”
Do you know what my signature verse of Scripture is? (It is not to be confused with my Life Mission Verse which is for another epistle at another time) My signature verse is the verse you see on the banner at the top of my blog: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” You would also see it displayed on my business card if I gave you one. Let me give you a bit of context for this familiar verse….
It is found in the Book of Nehemiah chapter 8. God’s people had just recently returned from exile in Babylon, having traveled about 900 miles to get back home. The Word of God had just been heard by them for the first time in a long time. They heard it read by Ezra the priest and then several of the Levite men helped the people to understand what the Scriptures said. Their hearts were pierced and they were overcome with grief as they realized how parched their soul’s were and how hungry they were for a Word from God. Nehemiah tried to comfort them by saying, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The people were weary. They were weary physically and emotionally as well as spiritually. As you grow up you will find that there are times in your life when this will be true for you as well. And you will need strength. And my hope is that you will find that strength in the “joy of the Lord.”
You will have other options – options that will promise you strength and courage but that will ultimately leave you feeling even more empty and even more weary. But if you seek to find strength in the joy of the Lord you will ultimately be satisfied. Here are a few reasons why this is so – no matter which way you interpret the phrase…
1) If you interpret “joy of the Lord” to mean “the Lord who Himself is joy-filled” then finding strength in Him will indeed be satisfying. Why? Because God is a happy God. He is not a grumpy Gus who is stewing over the way things have gone wrong and why people won’t listen to Him or do what He says. He is by His nature joyful – or to say it another way, full of joy. Have you ever been around people that you consider joyful? They are refreshing. They are energizing. They are invigorating to be around. They infuse the people that they are around with vigor – or strength. Being in the presence of God is the same way: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
2) If you interpret “joy of the Lord” to mean “the joy that comes from God” then finding strength in Him will also indeed be satisfying. Why? Check out this awesome verse in Romans 15…
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
When God fuels you and fills you with His joy it is accompanied by peace and hope. And peace and hope can revive a weary soul and give much needed comfort, contentment, and fortitude in the midst of life when it is most draining. Find you joy in Him and you will never regret it or be disappointed when the disappointments of life seem overwhelming.
So never forget that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
And never ever forget that you are very loved!