By; Pastor Jason Swedeen
It does not take much for a child to feel safe and secure, having strength and courage to, so to speak, ‘take on the world’. It takes a child being able to know that his parents are for him and delight over him, no matter what they do. That knowledge causes a child to have strength, to be able to face whatever situation comes in his path.
In Nehemiah 8:10, it says, "…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." This verse has been a great source of comfort for many people. Probably the most popular view of this verse is that if we have joy in the Lord, or we delight in Him, meaning our mind is upon Him, then we gain strength. Though there is truth in that view, which again has comforted many, it does not produce the fullness of what that verse really is saying. People can delight in the Lord and yet miss the true reality of how He delights in them, which is the greater revelation. The source of our strength is not a result of what we have done, but rather in what He has done.
Another view, though maybe less popular and painting a little imaginative picture, is that, the Lord has like a vault full of joy and the more of His joy that we obtain, the more strength we have. There is also a popular song, which I like the song and agree with the focus of the song, which says “The joy of the Lord is my strength….” It is a true statement, but then some extra verses are added that are like “If you want joy you must dance for it” or “clap for it” or “shout for it”. These things really come as a result or overflow of the presence of joy in ones life. Joy, along with love, peace, salvation, etc., can not be earned. There are times where, when we do what we know to do, we clap our hands, even if we do not, in the flesh, feel like it. We do not obtain joy from it though. It causes us to break through the fog that is clouding our vision to where we again can see the joy that already exists. The sun always exists and is shining even when the clouds are hiding it or the earth has turned its back on it.
Our strength is not obtained like video games where the more items you eat or find the more strength you get. Our strength from the Lord is not intended to be like a roller coaster ride: up and down, up and down, and side to side, and side to side. It is intended to keep you on a straight and level path: stable. The Bible says that a double-minded man(up and down, side to side) is unstable in all his ways.
Hebrews 12:2 says, “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.” Why did Jesus endure the cross, despising the shame? There was a joy that was set before Him, something that delighted Him. Something made it, enduring the cross, all worth it. What was that joy? There was one reason Jesus came to earth to die on the cross. It was to save you and me and bring us back into fellowship with God the Father. You and I were the joy that was set before Him, the delight in His eyes.
Just like the child who gains strength just by knowing that his parents delight in him, so we, gain strength to overcome every obstacle in life and believe in the impossibilities in life when we gain the revelation and knowledge that the Lord, our Heavenly Father, loves us, delights in us and is for us and not against us. Knowing that we are His joy, His delight, gives us strength. Thus, THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!