The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

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Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

Sometimes, I read or hear a verse over and over, feeling I have a good grasp on its meaning. And sometimes, in a flash, the meaning changes. 

This is one of those verses. I just didn't "get" it. 

As my journey into God deepens, some things suddenly hit home. Perhaps it is because joy is becoming a more frequent visitor in my life. Perhaps it is the continued loss of strength in my body. Or, perhaps it was just the right time. 

You see, I used to think that if I somehow managed to find joy, I'd be stronger. Physically , emotionally, spiritually. 

In some ways, I was right. 

But I didn't understand. Not really. 

It wasn't a matter of finding joy. 

It was all about growing closer to God. Committing and surrendering to Him. Following hard after God. 

And the joy?

It was a by-product. 

Not the goal. 

And I do feel stronger during those times. Not physically, but in my heart. And that strength relies completely on my relationship with Christ. 

When I trust in Him that my life still has meaning, I can live stronger - with joy. 

Reader, it has been so long since I have truly felt joy. 

I'd have said that, with all of the losses in the past ten years, it was impossible for me to even truly feel again. 

And the road has been hard. Challenging. Pushing me to the point of wanting to give up - then reaching out in desperation to grab hold of God - and simply holding on, slowly finding the strength for a firmer grasp. 

Then, suddenly finding the joy within that grasp - and now, never wanting to let go. 

And not, as I had thought, because I have joy; but rather, because I am seeking, and finding, God.  The joy? It is simply the icing on the cake. 



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