Monday, August 8, 2011

Joy, Joy, Joy

The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The jo-oy of the Lo-rd is my strength

You remember that song don't you? 

I think when I was a little one, the concept was a little skewed.  Something like - you gotta have joy all the time.  And that joy is only from the Lord.  Well, talk about one messed up girl when I got sad, or depressed, or frustrated.  And then what if I was too happy!?  Well, then it's not just the Lord at work over there.

As we were talking about abiding with Jesus from John 15 yesterday at church, I was struck by that one verse .... "I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!"  How is my joy overflowing when I'm hearing about being pruned back or disciplined?  How am I to be filled with joy when I'm told to abide with Jesus even though I just can't do it all the time!?

Sounds just like the Israelites in Nehemiah, doesn't it?  They had come back to Jerusalem, started to rebuild and they began to recount all God had done.  Nehemiah began reading the covenant laws of God.  And they started to wail.  They had royally screwed it up.  They hadn't followed, they hadn't obeyed, they had turned their backs on a loving, gracious, merciful, just God. 

They acted like we act. 

Yet, Nehemiah calls to them, "Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"

It's not their joy.  It's not their doing.  It's not a perpetual happiness.  It's not even their emotion.  It's all God's.  He has joy over us.  He knows our name - joy.  He remembers his promises for us - joy.  He remains faithful even when we are faithless - joy.  His joy over us which causes him to sing, sing, sing for you and me -- that is our strength. 

The reality of his joy because of his work for his child in his timing with his Son and Spirit - that joy is our strength.  Our strength when we don't want to (and just can't) love well.  Our strength when we can't get up to face another day with that job.  Our strength when our spouse, loved one, roommate, friend, brother, whomever is knocking us down so much that we just want to scream.  The joy that God has for you and me is the strengthening factor with helps to know that we are loved by more than our circumstances and more than our possessions and more than our marketing value. 

We, as Christ followers, are what causes the Creator of the universe to sing. 

That's strengthening.