“ … the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
(Nehemiah 8:10, King James Version)
What does it mean to have the joy of the Lord as your strength? To have the joy of the Lord as your strength means to draw power, courage or might from God. How? By having the awareness that he is your helper, your source, your life and your everything. In the book of of John 15:5, Jesus uses the analogy of the vine and its branches to explain what it means to have God as one’s strength. He said,
“I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.”
(John 15:5, God’s Word Translation)
That is to say, the ability to do anything remotely productive comes from God and that includes the strength he gives us daily. Because, when we believe in God, his Holy Spirit comes upon us and starts to live within us. Through his Holy Spirit, he begins to empower us to do all the things he has called us to do. Things that could be straightforward or challenging. A good example is someone like Paul the Apostle, whose calling was quite challenging that it prompted him to say,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
(James1:2, New International Version)
In human terms, joy and trials are polar opposites. That is why, it is difficult to imagine being joyful when facing hardships. But here’s the thing, having gone through a very harrowing experience in his ministry that left Paul despairing for life (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-31), he was able to say this:
“I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.”
(Philippians 4:13, New Century Version)
Paul, in the midst of his trials came to the realisation that, it was God who strengthened him to overcome his ordeal. And that knowledge was what brought him joy. His joy came from knowing that God’s Holy Spirit was in him (and with him), supporting him through all the things he had experienced.
So, what does it mean to have the joy of the Lord as your strength? Having the joy of the Lord means to have an awareness of who God is. That is, seeing him as the creator of the universe and the Sovereign God that he is. Then shifting the focus from one’s self to God, by acknowledging his supreme ability to handle all things. In the midst of that process is where strength emerges. Giving you the confidence that God is in control, no matter what and that confidence, makes you joyful (in the Lord) knowing that you are not alone. That was why Jesus, when facing crucifixion and abandonment could say to his disciples:
“…You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
(John:16:32, New International Version)
The joy of the Lord Jesus (at that time) was that, God was with him. Why not follow in the footsteps of Jesus or Paul and let the joy of the Lord be your strength. I leave you with the song 'Another in the fire', reminding us that we are never really alone when God is with us.
Stay blessed and keep on going!
I'm Kemi West. A simple Christian, learning to live life, through the teachings of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures. I’m looking to share the gift of Christ with others.