4 Ways the Joy of the Lord Can be Your Strength
*Guest Post by Rebecca Hargraves
I used to read the last portion of Nehemiah 8:10, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength”, and wonder, “What does that even mean?”. How can the joy of the Lord be my strength? As I was digging into the phrase a bit more, looking at the Hebrew, reading a concordance on it, etc., I found this gem of insight in Matthew Henry's commentary:
…Joy in the goodness of God, under the direction and government of the grace of God, joy arising from our interest in the love and favour of God and the tokens of his favour. This joy will be your strength, therefore encourage it; it will be your strength…
The Hebrew word translated to strength is ma`owz and literally means:
- place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold
- place of safety, fastness, harbor, stronghold
- refuge (of God) (fig.)
- human protection (fig.)
With all of this in mind, I want us to look today at 4 very practical ways we can go about having the joy of the Lord really be our strength in our day to day lives.
How the Joy of the Lord can be Your Strength
- You can have a firm foundation to rely on when the going gets tough.
We all know just how hard life can be sometimes. Sickness, heartache, tragedy, loss of a job, loss of a home, broken relationships – they can all be a part of life at one time or another. Not one of us goes through life in this broken world completely unscathed.
This is where the joy of the Lord can so tangibly be our strength. In fact, it is during the hard times when we can feel the true joy of the Lord most deeply. When our hearts hurt and life doesn't make any sense, we can look to the Lord and remember that He is our strong tower, our refuge, our firm foundation on which to rely when the going gets tough. Similarly,
- You can have an unshakable inner peace.
Christ spoke often of the peace He came to give us – peace that was not of this world, peace that can keep us from being afraid, and peace that can keep our hearts from being troubled (see John 14:27). Paul referred to the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7), the kind of unshakable inner peace we can have even in those times that, otherwise, would never be described as being “peaceful”.
The joy of the Lord becomes our strength and provides us with this kind of inner peace at the soul level when we remember the truth of the promise found in Romans 8:28 – “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This may feel like nothing but a nice little platitude or a verse to hang up on your wall or something to grace the front of your Bible cover. But it is so much more than that.
It is a firm, unceasing, faithful promise that is true no matter what our feelings are telling us about our current situation. It is an assurance that our God is faithful, that He is a good Father, and that because of these truths, He has a good plan for our lives. It may not always feel that way in the here-and-now when we are going through times of trial and hardship. But it is nevertheless always, always true. And the day will come when we can look back on our hard season of today and so tangibly see that to have been the case. This realization is where true joy is found, and where we most fully experience what it's like for the joy of the Lord to be our lasting strength.
- You can know that you have Someone on whom you can always rely.
The joy of the Lord is our strength because of who our Lord is. Our God is a God of love, compassion, grace, truth, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness. He is a God who will never leave us nor forsake us, who is always with His children, tenderly keeping watch-care over them day and night. He is a God who keeps His promises and remains ever true to His Word. Joy undoubtedly comes from knowing the true, full-orbed character of our great God. But knowing His true character only comes from being in His Word.
So, do you want true and lasting joy in your life? Do you want the strength which comes with harnessing the joy of the Lord? Do you want your faith to be built? Spend some time in His Word. You will be so glad you did!
- You can do away with the confusion of trying to copy others in the way they live.
As women, we often find ourselves in the comparison trap, deliberating over whether or not we are living up to the examples of others, are as productive as we think other women are, and whether or not we are on the same level of sanctification in marriage and motherhood that we believe all the other ladies around us to be.
If we are not comparing our results, we are at least comparing our methods, which is where the scourge of the mommy wars comes from. We spend so much time trying to emulate the ways of both the women in our actual lives and the women we follow on social media. We try to parent the way they parent, disciple the way they disciple, work out the way they work out, do hospitality exactly the way they do hospitality, have the exact kind of date nights with our husband that they do with theirs, and the list goes on. Plain and simple, we are trying to live life in a way that does not fit our family. What results from this is a lot of stressed out, worried, anxious women who are too busy trying to live in the skin of others that they can't seem to just rest, relax, and live in their God-given skin.
This, also, is where the joy of the Lord can become our strength. We can begin to realize that His ways for us and our own unique families are best. We don't have to prove ourselves, measure up, or become like someone else. We can be who God made us especially to be, fill the void in the world that He designed for us to fill, and live life according to the specific personalities and family dynamics which make up our own families.
So, take joy, sweet sister! Life may be hard sometimes, but our God is bigger than our heartache. Life may be a struggle sometimes, but God can fulfill our deepest longings like no “perfect” life ever could. Look to Him, friend. Keep your eyes fixed on the cross, the implications of the gospel, and the joy and strength that is yours. It's waiting for you at the foot of the cross. Lay hold of it today.
More about Lies Moms Believe (and How the Gospels Refutes Them)
As moms, we have voices coming at us from all directions on a daily basis – voices from the culture, the church, the parenting “experts”, our own parents, and others. And you know what the real kicker is? The voices all vary in what they are telling us is true! As if this weren’t confusing enough, add to it the fact that we are daily bombarded by lies from our old enemy, Satan, as well, and we are left with an overwhelming cesspool of deception. But take heart, mama. There is good news! We are not left to our own devices in motherhood, desperately trying to sift through all the voices on our own. God, in His infinite mercy and grace, has provided us with unchanging truth in His Word that is able to combat each and every lie that could ever be thrown at us. We need only to study the Scriptures, seeking to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.
That is the heart behind Lies Moms Believe. In this book, Rebekah seeks to show you once and for all that the Gospel is not simply Good News for your eternity. It is Good News for the here and now as well, and is relevant and applicable to each and every lie and struggle you face in motherhood. With warmth, transparency, and an unwavering passion for truth, Rebekah addresses 32 of the most common lies moms believe today about the importance of motherhood, children, the role of a mom, and more. Tackling such lies as: “I am to find my identity and ultimate fulfillment in motherhood”, “Mothering is unimportant work”, and “I have to be a perfect mom”, she shows how God’s Word applies to all the lies out there, whether practical or spiritual.
You will come away inspired, encouraged, and motivated as never before to live out your days as a mother with passion, joy, purpose, and freedom. As Jesus told us in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Rebekah Hargraves is a twenty-something Christian, wife, mama, homemaker, homeschool graduate, writer, home business owner, blogger, and Texas-native-turned-Tennessean. She lives with her husband and two kids.