• Karissa

The Joy Of The Lord Is Our Strength

It was one of those days. I was cleaning up a disaster of a mess and saw a scripture card (that I needed to clean up) on the bookshelf that said “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” I kind of smirked and thought God where is your joy today?  This week?

As the final thought was forming I stubbed my toe really hard. So hard I may have thought up some new kind of swear language.

OK God, you got my attention.

Right now is one of those times where a lot seems to be thrown at me, and I struggle sometimes to find joy in the mess. But with my toe throbbing I thought of earlier in the morning, when I saw my daughter reflected in the bubbles that surrounded her like real life magic. I crouched next to her as we marveled at the three bubbles clung on to each other that landed safely on the grass without popping. As we chased the wind chasing the bubbles we talked about our triune God, like those three separate bubbles together.

I thought of the crocuses we found sprung up out of the hard ground that I forgot I had even planted. I’m still not convinced I ever planted them at all, and that they may just be a surprise delight.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.

After I stubbed my toe and thought of bubbles and crocuses I reached for my phone to turn on worship music, a reaction that has become habit when I feel like the day is lost and can’t see the joy or the glad in it all. And would you like to know the song that played when I pushed shuffle on my huge worship playlist?

Joy of the Lord.

This specific song was from a live CD, and it is just a spontaneous heart cry of the worshipers. Not a formal song with lyrics, in fact a lot of it is not even words but just joyful noise or tongues. The private heart song of the worshipers. The joy of the Lord is our strength is all really that they sing. The Scripture that the whole set is based on.

I realized listening  that it didn’t sound like happiness. It sounded more like triumph, like God’s presence in the pain. Joy is not, cannot be happiness, because happiness is fleeting. Joy is not. Joy is strength, but sometimes it looks a lot like hurt. All mixed and mingled and blooming through all that is messy. But the joy, from the deep well of eternity that we drink from is lasting and it is our strength. We have joy because of who Jesus is, not any circumstance.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.

In this world and not of it does not only tell how we should act, but it tells of how we should BE. The world may press upon us, may hurt us or damage us or fry us, but it can’t touch the eternity imprinted on our souls. It cannot steal from the deep well inside of us. The joy of The Lord is our strength.

This day is holy. Do not be grieved. The joy of The LORD is our strength. God’s people were moved to tears as Ezra read from the wooden platform he stood on before them The Book of the Law. They saw their shortcomings and destitution. But Ezra still said “do not be grieved. This day is a holy one, not one of sorrow. For the joy of the LORD is our strength.” The salvation of God is continuous, a reverberation of grace throughout all of history. Our circumstances and our shortcomings may cause us grief, but the well of joy that never runs dry is our salvation. The Israelites saw their salvation, and it was a holy day. A joyful one. They were grieved, but up out of that grief shoots joy like a crocus breaking through dead spring ground. New life stirring. Joy breaking through, fed by the holy day of our salvation, and lasting until the holy day of our sanctification.