Has the Lord placed a devotional on your heart that you would like to share with other standers? Submit it by clicking here.
Early in my stand for my marriage I felt Satan attacked in two key areas, my prayer life and my joy. For this moment, I want to focus on joy.
Joy is such a fascinating thing in scripture. It isn’t mentioned as just a by-product from other good things that happen, or a feeling that will come along as we follow the Lord. No, it is something we pursue and purpose to live within.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
Make your own list. “Though my bank account is nearing empty, though my husband has left me after all these years, though my friends don’t understand or seem to support me, though my children are hurting or rebellious, though I feel so alone…” These are some of the things we as standers might write – all the things that make us feel anything but joyful! But then what follows is a declaration of purpose, “I WILL rejoice,” and “I WILL be joyful.” These are statements of volition, choosing God’s path and way. Not easily done, for sure. Perhaps not done at all by mere human effort. But…
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
We lean hard upon Christ. We lean into His love, His power, His strength, and by His grace, through faith, we choose joy. We choose to praise Him. We think, “I am overwhelmed, but my God is not overwhelmed. I am so weak to face this, but God is powerful and able to do all things. My spouse doesn’t love me and it’s killing me inside, but God’s love is unfailing and everlasting. He loves me with a love that I will know better, even because of this awful trial, and He is my Healer. He promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) And so, we meet the specific struggles that we have with praise to our God who is greater than all we face and able to meet every need and minister to every hurt. We rejoice in Him.
Earlier in that same chapter in Philippians, we are told, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!” God would not tell us to rejoice if joy was only a feeling, a circumstantial reaction to happy things. Again, joy and rejoicing are offered as something we must choose to do, purpose to do.
I believe the enemy hates our joy. He hates us to be joyful in the Lord, and he hates joy, period.
But God loves us to be joyful! He instituted all kinds of feasts and festivals for His people, the Israelites, in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 16:14, the Lord says about one of these, “Be joyful at your feast, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants….” Elsewhere God commands joy. In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah tells the people to “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks…. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Aren’t you glad that we have a God who wants us to have joy, to walk in joy and be joyful? Don’t we love to feel joy? And yet, don’t we often choose the darkest thoughts, the worst fears, the dullest reactions to the great salvation we have through Jesus, and choose NOT to be joyful?
If you believe God to be sour, dour, stoic, devoid of emotion – that is NOT the God of the Bible. He is passionate, full of loving kindness for His dear children. We do go through hard things that He allows from His loving hand, but His heart is for our joy, and I am so grateful. And I have discovered a strange and wonderful thing: I can know joy in Him even in sorrow. I can feel such tenderness and gratefulness toward Him even as tears of legitimate sorrow flow. I never would have believed or understood how these two could exist together so rightfully and well. In other words, you don’t have to pretend you are going through something that is happy and sorrow-free to know this great joy in the Lord. May He help us all to learn this.
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I write these words to myself, too. As I said, the enemy has sought to rob me of joy. I am better now at recognizing that scheme, but I still need to be reminded. Then, I need to praise the Lord, spend time enjoying all His many blessings, thanking Him for all He has already done, and choosing to stand on His promises by faith, believing in what He will do in the future, remembering that our hope is not based on what our spouses will do, but what our God will do! And then, yes, the joy of the Lord will be our strength!
In His love and joy,
Anne in Colorado
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.