The Joy of the Lord.
Have you ever felt sad, depressed, stuck, frustrated, bored, lost or broken?
"And Nehemiah continued, "Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!"
-Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT)
Problems, issues, trials, obstacles, and all sorts of inconveniences will happen and arise in this life. A lot of people overcome and continue to live a great life, a lot of people get crushed and never get up again. A person can be crushed physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, situationally, financially, etc.
What is the key to strength and stability?
The joy of the Lord.
Now, this sounds simple, but what does it actually mean? See, there's a difference between joy, and happiness. There is a difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness is situational and conditional. I am happy depending on what is happening at that moment in time. However, I can experience joy even when I am not happy. I can have joy even when I am not happy about a situation or current stage in my life. External factors determine happiness. Internal factors determine joy.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
-James 1:2-3 (NLT)
"But he answered me, 'My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.' So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me."
-2 Corinthians 12:9 (TPT)
Nobody is happy about trouble in their life, but it is an opportunity for joy. It sounds weird, I know. We have to learn the heart of God. He hurts when bad things are happening to you. God hurts when you hurt. He is not happy when you feel bad. The thing is, he thinks so highly of you, and he has so much for you, that he knows he has given you the ability to overcome. He knows what he has for you will not be handled well unless you build strength in the struggle. The human body periodically breaks down muscles and rebuilds them according to the resistance you've placed on them. In other words, more work, more muscle, more strength.
Spiritually speaking, this process of trials and troubles coming into our life can produce strength when we find joy in life, no matter what happens. This means if I am going through a tough situation at work or school, I can grow from it. If I'm feeling down with a heavy heart, I know I will come out stronger. If someone is violating my life, I will let God avenge me. This mindset gets rid of jealousy, envy, bitterness, anger, resentment, rejection and any other negative thing trying to take up space in my heart. I know that this is not the end.
How do I know this is not the end? How do I know there's more for me and more for you?
"There is no such thing as darkness with you.
The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.
You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.
You saw who you created me to be before I became me!
Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
the number of days you planned for me
were already recorded in your book.
Every single moment you are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider
that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
O God, your desires toward me are more
than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, you’re still with me."
-Psalm 139:12-18 (TPT)
God is always thinking about you, and his thoughts are only good. His plans for your life are only good. In the opening scripture, I find it interesting that it says the joy "of the Lord", and not just the joy "from the Lord". With God, there is always deeper. See, it's one thing to experience joy, but even deeper than that is the joy of God himself and how he feels about you. Your life is already planned out, you just have to walk in that plan. He has a plan for your body and health. He has a plan for your finances. He has a plan for your freedom. He has a plan for your love life. He has a plan for your well-being. He has a plan for all of your gifts and talents. He has a plan for everything about you.
So, when trouble comes your way, the joy that God feels for you will look past the situation as already defeated. The situation is the fact. What God says about it is the truth. And this truth over your life has already been established before you were even born. Many people don't walk in the truth, though. Don't be one of those people. When your heart is connected to God's heart, his joy engulfs you, and gives you strength. It gives you power to persevere. When your heart is connected to the heart of God, you will feel how he feels about you and what's happening in your life. You will feel his deepest heart's desires for you. God wants more for you than you even want for yourself. And that is the truth.
Enjoy life, enjoy this Thanksgiving season. Be thankful. The scriptures say to celebrate with rich foods and sweet drinks. I will gladly obey that word.