Focus: Joy, as a permanent possession
Nehemiah 8:10b (NKJV) “…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
If you search the internet to find added meaning for the word ‘joy’, you won’t find very much. The reason you won’t find much—is because joy is hard to define. If joy were a time of year, it could definitely be seen at some point in every season.
Winter could be ‘joy’ when the first snowflakes fall and all of the fallen leaves, bare branches, and dead grass becomes blanketed with pure white. Early winter has its beauty, but the end of winter is usually mud, dirty snow, and a feeling of being worn out and ready to be ‘over it’—for those who live in the north.
The first sign of spring is rain—a welcome indicator that an abundance of new life is about to be seen. The rains cleanse the residue of winter and soften the ground for what is coming. Spring becomes pure joy, as leaves pop out on trees, flowers push their way up out of the ground, and color bursts forth changing the landscape, like light filling a darkened room when a lamp is lit. Spring just slides into summer—with nothing to get tired about except the wistful waiting for warmer days.
The joy of summer is families gathered together, recreation, farmlands producing crops, and young animals romping about and learning to live.
Autumn is ‘joy’—when trees are ablaze with all the colors of a perfect sunset and cooler temperatures have finally arrived. When the majesty fades, the weather seems to whisper words of melancholy. Just when you might be about to give in to it—another crystal covering falls out of the sky. Winter joy has returned, and the cycle begins to repeat itself.
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I see joy as a blessing of relief after a period of hardship, like snow after dead leaves, flowers after mud, recreation after a year of working, crisp air after summer heat. It can also be likened to the release of tension and heartache after a ‘good cry’, or the comfort of having a warm blanket put around your shoulders when they’ve been tight and stiff.
We can further define ‘joy’ according to the way we see the word used in the Bible. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” ‘Weeping’ in the context of this scripture can be compared to our condition before we know Christ and are without hope in our sinful state. The effects of sin are like the ‘ugly’ stage of every season. The mud—long, hot, sticky days—bare trees stripped by bitter winds—blinding blizzards. But, when we receive salvation—all the beauty comes, as ‘joy’.
Joy is an abiding condition—when we have Christ. Our circumstances may not always be beautiful—but we live with the knowledge that our circumstances don’t dictate our destiny. We live with an inner assurance of a positive future. With Christ in our heart, we have a reason to overlook dark days. Oh, we can get tired of the dark when it seems to last too long—but, if everyday of the year was full sun—we’d get tired of that, too. We need a balance of light and darkness, sun and rain, heat and cold, happiness and sorrow.
In a period of depression, try to remember the seasons. Depression is usually a season, too. It doesn’t last forever. Never look at one day, one week, one month, or one year of your life. Look at the big picture and remember that everything works together for good when you love God. The earth needs the balance of the seasons in order for things to work right. Light and dark are of equal importance in the balance of nature. Bad days help us appreciate the good days. Another source of encouragement can be knowing you are not alone. Many people—now strong—once battled with the same things you are dealing with.
Through this time of testing, hold onto your faith. Take comfort in the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is your strength. It is part of your eternal inheritance. The world has a hard time defining joy because it’s a spiritual thing.
Happiness comes and goes for all of us—joy stays with those who have Christ. Circumstances and conditions affect your happiness. Nothing can affect your joy, because it belongs to you. Joy, is the lasting peace and satisfaction which God has promised is yours to keep. What He has given you can never be taken away.
Declaration: I will find new strength in contemplation of the joy of the Lord. I will keep moving forward with the assurance of the positive future I have been promised.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.