The Joy of the Lord
…and the Levites who taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord, your God; mourn not, nor weep…Neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
One of the greatest devices that the enemy of our souls uses to sap our strength is sadness. If he can get us to dwell on our problems, weep continually over our losses, he has won the victory.
King David knew that we would go through “night seasons” of duress when he said; “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Solomon, King David’s heir to the throne, said it like this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Eccl. 3:1-4).
Every so often we are overtaken by circumstances and the problems of everyday living. When we suffer disappointment, pain, and loss it is only natural for us to grieve. But for overcoming Christians, our sadness or grief doesn’t have to be prolonged. There is strength in the joy of the Lord, which has nothing to do with daily occurrences, good or bad.
This is hard to fathom and to many it is an unbelievable philosophy but it’s the key to an endless supply of the peace that passes all understanding. Sometime back, the Lord brought this lesson home to me and I would like to share it with you. On this particular morning I was feeling like most everyone does at some time or other: emotionally drained.
I was drained of energy and a weariness had come over me that was causing me to be physically sick. At this point my problems seemed impossible to surmount. I went to my usual spot, sat down in my usual chair to read the Bible. Before I opened it I heaved a sigh, raised my eyes heavenward and in desperation said, “Lord would you give me something special this morning, I need to hear from you?” At that precise moment the thought came to me, “I’ll just read from the Old Testament.” I often do that. My need seemed monumental, almost like the children of Israel at the Red Sea. I felt hemmed in with no way out. I needed the God who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence to roll back the waters of despair and make a clear path for me.
In the New Testament Jesus taught his disciples prior to his crucifixion that after his death, burial and resurrection we could go directly to the Father in his name. “…I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:22-24).
These scriptures gave me permission to enter the throne room of Almighty God and ask of Him what I needed, so long as I approached Him in the name of Jesus my savior. And that is exactly what I did. As I opened my Bible, the book of Haggai came forcefully to my mind. Turning there I read the first chapter and thought, “this is good but not what I really need.” Then I allowed my eyes to wander just above Haggai. There on the same page was the last chapter of Zephaniah and what I read made my heart leap for JOY. Here is what the Lord said directly to me that morning and you may read it for yourself:
“Sing, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgements, he hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: Thou shall not see evil any more” (Zeph. 3:14-15).
When I read that, I realized I had reason to rejoice in the Lord no matter how great my problems seemed. Just to know that God has taken away my judgments, cast out my enemy and is with me every step of the way filled me with joy and gratitude. The Lord didn’t want me to be sad! It was a good thing everyone had already left the house that morning because I did just what the Lord told me to do. I sang! I rejoiced! I clapped my hands and worshiped the King! Before long a well spring of joy began to flow from deep within me and I laughed! What strength! What power! What joy! And you know what? At that moment my problems diminished.
The Lord didn’t wave a magic wand and do away with them, but He gave me the strength to face them and reminded me once again that He is bigger than all my problems; bigger than all my fears. This wonderful Father of mine, the same God that wrote the ten commandments in stone with His finger, is able and willing to come to my rescue. He hasn’t lost any of His power!
So today I say with the great apostle Paul; for this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:14-21).