The Joy of the Lord is my strength. Neh. 8:10
The second Fruit of the Spirit is Joy. Not to be confused with Happiness, Joy can be found regardless of circumstances.
You Can Achieve More Strength with Supernatural Joy
Joy of Salvation
My greatest Joy? My #1 go-to, biggest thing that ever happened to me? God saved me. I mean, God literally saved my life.
I was 17 and a leader in my local youth group at church. If the church doors were open, I was there.
Oh, I'd walked to the front of the church during "invitation time" when I was 9. But all I did there was fill out a card and let everyone shake my hand. After that, the Baptist preacher dunked me in the baptistry. (My mom asked me how I felt after that, and my answer - "Wet" - got me grounded) But it was true! That's really all I felt.
I spent the next 8 years doing all the things a good Christian should - except what really mattered: I didn't really know God. It's like this - I could have been reading and studying and memorizing passages from a book about George Washington, but that would NOT mean I had a personal relationship with him. I hadn't surrendered to God. I just filled out a card. There was no joy in my salvation BECAUSE I WASN'T SAVED!
Despair led to Joy
As I got older, I felt more and more like a fraud. I knew all the right answers in church, but I didn't really know Jesus. Until one day, I decided I'd had enough. I was... at church, of all places. In the sanctuary, practicing the organ and crying when I knew I was done. I had a plan. When I got home, I would take my life. I even had a plan on how to do it without making too big a mess for my mom.
Just then my youth minister walked through and invited me up to his office when I got done. He had gotten some new witnessing tools.
I sat at his desk, and he used them to line out how to really meet Jesus. And I told him I'd never done that, and I needed to do it NOW.
I did. I prayed for forgiveness, and I asked Jesus into my life. Then an unfamiliar combo of peace and joy flooded over me as I now had a reason to live.
My strength source
The joy of the Lord is my strength. Needless to say, my early prayers didn't see many answers. And as the years dragged on, my weakness became overwhelming. But time and again, I return to this verse. The joy of the Lord is my strength. And the more I choose Joy, the stronger the Holy Spirit makes me.
Yes, Joy is a choice. It's not an emotion based on circumstances. I'm so glad God gave us a scripture to remind us what to do when it seems to have slipped away. Ps. 51:12, "Restore to me the JOY of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."
Just ask Him to restore this joy! And when we get worried, God provided for that as well in Ps. 94:19, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."
This Joy's for you
"If you share a burden, you halve it; if you share a blessing, you double it." That's what I was told years ago, and it holds pretty true most of the time. But then I found this in Prov. 14:10, "Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy."
Bitterness isn't something to share with others anyway. Hopefully, it's not something we allow to take hold in our lives at all! But, I'm in the midst of a situation where I'm really wishing I could share my joy.
At some point in most people's lives, we all encounter people who are just plain miserable. And in being so unhappy, they work hard to share that with everyone they meet. (Misery loves company, right?)
Oh, friend, I hope you don't have to spend too much time with those people, and I pray that you recognize their efforts to steal or squelch your joy! All I know is, when I focus on God and all He's done for me, my problems and circumstances seem to shrink and fade. There's a verse for that, too: Ps. 92:4, "For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands."
Sing with Joy
It's hard to sing praise songs without some joy creeping in. Okay. Yes. I've been in enough church choirs or leading music, playing piano enough to see some Christian worshiping with pretty sour faces. But it's also true that singing and joy are very closely linked in scripture.
So, if yours seems lacking:
- Ask God to renew your joy
- Sing of the things God has done for you.
- Count your blessings
- Remember, I'm praying for you.
- If you don't really know Jesus, go here.
Father God, thank you for my salvation and my life. Refresh all those who read this with your supernatural joy - despite their circumstances.