I sit in a daze staring out over the ripples that cascade across the lake; lost in thought about many things…some important, some not so much. It is in these contemplative moments that I wait for the voice of God to speak quietly to my heart.
This morning the scripture, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” echoes through the chamber of my mind. What is God trying to share with me in this morning reflection? The rain is an endless drizzle today and it reminds of the down pour of battles I am trying to champion; some successful, others failure.
Ever feel ambushed by life? I have.
You are being deceitful to yourself if you answer no. All of humanity feels ambushed by the circumstances of this life at some time or another. We’re just trying to make sense of a world overtaken by the darkness of a creation held captive by sin.
And so, as the ripples of the water flow with the current, so does my life head in the fashionable direction of today’s trends and accepted tendencies. I move forward with joyless ambition and assume this is the norm for most of us.
Let’s dissect the scripture…”The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Here “strength” (Hebrew “maoz”) means “hard, firm, prevailing, and fortress.” Something that overcomes! It is a place of safety, protection and refuge. And the “joy” (a rare word indeed, “chedvah,” is found only 3 times in the Bible) means “gladness, rejoicing.”
That is powerful! The joy of the Lord is found on the road to our restoration.
What imparts that joy?
It is the fact that God’s love levels and humbles us but continually reaffirms to us that we are his chosen people and He is still our God even in our disobedience and rebellion. The joy of the Lord stems from an inner strengthening from our relationship with Him and is a constant gladness and that causes us to rejoice even when life happens.
True joy erases guilt, shame and the penalty we all deserve for our sin. It restores our hearts with an inner strength only God can offer.
Every day we all arise with repeated sins that we hate but still do; words we speak but want to take back and battles that drain us of our strength. It is in these times or helplessness that God becomes our strength and refreshes us with the hope and knowledge that our salvation is rooted in what Christ has already done. It shifts us to a position of worship regardless of our current situation.
God is a constant and even in all the ripples of life, the down pours and times of feeling helpless, He is there. We are offered freedom and joy if we are willing to cease depending on our own strength. It is only through God’s unwavering love that we are able to be glad and rest in our weaknesses, hardships and difficulties.
Father God, you are my fortress; gracious, merciful and rich in unfailing love. As the ebb and tide of this currents life seek to harness my life, rescue me with your promise that your joy alone is my strength. Remind me that it is adversity that changes man’s will and challenges his spirit.