I wrote this blog post a while ago, actually almost three years ago. This week I had big plans to write a couple blog post, to encourage, challenge and fill people in on what's going on in my life. Then life got busy, I got tired, and Friday got here with still no blog post. All week I was thinking, "I could just recycle an old blog post," so finally I am posting it. Maybe someone out there needs to hear these words.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength” Nehemiah 8:10

I heard a sermon once about this verse that continually encourages me to this day. Most people interpret this verse as the joy we have or receive from being in relationship with Jesus is our strength. This is a great interpretation. There is joy, overflowing joy, found in relationship with Christ. But what about the times you feel joy is far away, is strength from the Lord far away too?

In the sermon I heard the pastor put it this way. What is the "Joy of the Lord"? Not our joy in knowing God, but what is the "Lord's Joy". What brings God joy? If you think of it in the context of God as our Heavenly father, we can compare it to the joy a father feels when taking care of his children. The strength I find, especially when going through hard times, is from God delighting in taking care of me. Its not “my joy” in the Lord, but “His joy” in his role as my heavenly father, that gives me the strength to carry on

The Joy of the Lord is my strength, not my Joy, but God’s in being who He is! His joy in being my heavenly father.

Here’s the example that the Pastor used that helped me understand what he meant by God’s joy in being God, giving us strength. This video is about Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father and son who have run over 1000 road races together, multiple marathons, and triathlons including the Iron Man. Watch the video, its amazing.

This is how I see it. Rick (the son, who is severely disabled) gets strength to compete in these races from his Dad. Dick’s joy is found in being Rick’s dad, carrying him, pushing him, the joy is him being able to do these things for his son. And then the joy comes for Rick too, in being able to do things no one ever thought he’d be able to do.

God’s takes Joy in taking care of us, in carrying us, in pushing us, and from that we find strength. Strength to do things no one ever thought we could do, or get through times that we think we don’t have the strength to get through. Then we find joy in this strength and the realization that God is taking such joy in loving us.

One of my favorite scriptures in the bible is James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." It gives me comfort in knowing that the trials I go through have purpose, and that I can find joy during hard times, however; sometimes I feel a burden to "find joy," one more thing I have to struggle to do sometimes. But the encouragement I find in knowing it's not my responsibility to have the joy to get the strength. It is God's responsibility, His joy, that gives me strength.

So when it’s hard to find joy, remember that our strength is not based on how much joy we have but it comes from the Joy of the Lord, it comes from our Heavenly Father’s delight in taking care of us. Our strength does not come from anything we do, but from all that He has done, and does to take care of us.

His Joy is my Strength!

This Sunday I get the privilege of playing the keyboard for the first church service at our new church. STONEHILL CHURCH in Meridian, ID. I'm so excited!