The Connection Between Strength and Joy - STRENGTH, Part 9

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Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
— Isaiah 12:2

I was making some coffee this morning and I reached in the cupboard for a mug. I picked one up that had a scripture on it, and the word “strength” caught my eye, since I’d been writing on the topic. “The Lord is my strength and song,” it said.

Not just strength. But song.

A “song” implies joy, and it sent me on a search for more information. Was it possible that God could provide not only enough strength to fight a battle, but even the sort of strength that made it possible to fight with joy?

Where did the joy come from?

The Joy Comes In God’s Presence

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.' (Acts 2:28)

Do you have someone in your life who does this for you? Can you remember a moment where they walk into the room, and it just lights you up inside? 

Maybe you’re waiting for a friend to show up for a coffee or lunch date. You arrived earlier than they did, and even though you know they’re coming, there’s still the loneliness of being there first and waiting for them to show up. 

And then — there they are!

You stand up, a big smile takes over your face, and you give them a hug or handshake of greeting, and the joy of their presence spreads through your chest.

Do You Associate "God" With "Joy"? You Should!

How much more joy would we feel if we were waiting in that coffee shop for the King of Creation to show up? How much more anticipation, knowing that the Mighty One, full of All Wisdom, the One who adopted us as His own and who loves us unconditionally, was coming to meet with us?

How much greater could our expectations be, if we would remember Who it is that we’re waiting for, and what He has promised to do for us?

The One who created sunrises and sunsets, rainbows and giraffes. The One who used a shout to bring down the walls of Jericho. And what about the things He has already done in our lives? He's the one who saved me from marrying a man who is currently in prison for life in Idaho for domestic abuse. He's the one who told me what to name my son before I was even pregnant. He's the one who found my son's lost toy when he needed it for a project with a deadline.

He Shows Up, And He Keeps His Promises

And then, that moment, when we are seeking him with all our hearts, searching His word and listening for His beloved voice,

and then,

and then —

He arrives.

Light blossoms in our minds as our reading of His Word becomes Him speaking it to us. Sometimes we even feel warmth spread through our chest as His presence manifests in our prayer time. Visions of how our day will play out unfold as we imagine being armed with His power and patience and supernatural ability to walk in love.

Joy.

Such joy in His presence, knowing that He is HERE. Knowing that whatever comes, He is WITH US. Knowing that nothing else matters, because no matter what happens to us in this life, our eternity is secured with Him. And not only that, but He says that with faith, nothing will be impossible for us even now in THIS life.

There Is Great Strength in Joy

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
— Nehemiah 8:10b

May we learn to find strength in His presence. May we learn to seek Him, and find such joy when He arrives that we are filled with boldness and praise. 

Jesus found strength in joy. That joy was strong enough to empower Him to face the Roman soldiers when they came to arrest Him. That joy was big enough that He could answer the questioning of the Jewish leaders and of Pilate with peace and self-control. 
Jesus found enough strength in joy that He was able to endure the mocking and brutal flogging of the soldiers, and even to endure the agony of death by crucifixion.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The Father showed Jesus the end of the story, and the joy of that future was strong enough to carry Him through the worst suffering that anyone could endure.

That’s the kind of strength I want. That’s the kind of strength I need. How about you?

TAKING IT TO HEART: There is strength in joy. More than enough for ANYTHING we face. And we receive it, like everything else we receive from the Lord, by seeking Him with all our hearts, receiving His words, and believing what He says — by faith. 

CHALLENGE: This week, ask God to show you the power of joy. Seek His presence, and the joy of it, and look for ways to carry it around into every situation in your daily life.