I liked singing about it; I remember Twila Paris and gospel sing-alongs at church, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”, but somehow I was never able to flesh those words out into giving me any strength. I understood, I think, that Jesus plus joy equals strength; the question was, when one has Jesus but is in a season where joy isn’t easily measured, how does one access that joy-strength of Christ’s?
What IS the joy of the Lord, anyhow? Where did Jesus find joy on earth? And guess what I found – Hebrews 12:2 spells it out SO clearly: “He, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…”
This was it! It wasn’t that life on earth filled Jesus with great joy – no! God’s word defines Him very differently: “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief...” He had to endure the cross – He despised the shame. Where WAS His joy, then?
It was in the joy set before Him…
Costa Rica sky above our home, 2009. As I LOOK to those clouds, where one day Jesus WILL return, I find joy. And that joy translates into strength for this moment and this day…
Joy – not in His present circumstances, but in the future that was the certainty.
If the joy of the Lord was in His future, that’s where MY joy must be as well, if I am to find strength! And the more I look to heaven and the realization of Joy Then and There, the stronger I can be Here and Now.
Future Joy There, Then, = Guaranteed Strength Here, Now.
“Oh! Is it not joy, that you are not to be in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness? Let the future sanctify the present to its highest uses…
The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength.
He fights against temptation with ardour, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come…” (Spurgeon)
Do I need strength? Yes. And as I look for the joy that my Lord had while on earth (future joy), there will be my strength as well.
I need to stop looking for strength in all the wrong places – mainly in myself, or in my present circumstances…and surprisingly as I think of THERE (heaven) , I find I have strength HERE…the more I think on the truths that will be THEN, the more I find strength for NOW.