The Joy of the Lord

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For the joy of the LORD is your strength. Neh. 8:10

This was the reason given to the people of Israel that they should not weep in response to the reading of God's word (Neh. 8:9-10). Now, there is a place for weeping and for a godly sorrow that leads to repentance (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10). And there is a time when God's word confronts us in such a way that weeping is the correct response, or at least part of a correct response (cf. 2 Kings 22:11, 18-19). However, weeping is not meant to be a permanent state of affairs for God's people. Weeping may abide for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5). The reason behind this is exactly what the psalmist in Ps. 30 is getting at: God's fundamental attitude towards his children is not anger but grace and mercy and favor. And therefore our fundamental response towards God should not be one of despair and grief but of love and joy and confidence and hope.

Note that this is joy in God: "the joy of the LORD." God - Father, Son, and Spirit - is the worthy object of our greatest hope and therefore of our deepest joy. And it is when we find our joy in God, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, that we also receive the desires of our hearts (Ps. 37:4). And so in this joy we find our strength, a joy which will never disappoint, never become a matter of regret. The joyful Christian is the persevering Christian, the obedient Christian, the fruitful Christian, the witnessing Christian. It is into this joy that we will one day enter (Mt. 25:21).

Thus the apostle Paul exhorts each of us today, "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). Will you choose to do so today? Believer, do not reach out to this world for joy or into yourself for joy, but reach out to Christ and there you will find "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:8).

By: Jeremiah Bass