This verse is familiar to many, but beyond the “memes” and our refrigerator magnets, this faith-filled mantra can seem the contradiction to everything that rises up in our hearts on any difficult day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could avoid all that doesn’t “spark joy” in our lives? Unsettling news and circumstance can quickly yank our “joy” rug from under us, bringing unforeseen angst while fueling our weaknesses.
What’s amazing about Nehemiah’s encouragement is that it was spoken to people who were ravaged by war, having come to the end of themselves after losing all that they esteemed as valuable… an unlikely audience for such positivity!
Joy is not circumstantial
Yet, God was extending His kindness to them just as He is encouraging us through His Word today! His indwelling Holy Spirit is ours, through Christ, and He desires to secure the soundness of our minds and hearts, even when trouble comes. Joy is not circumstantial happiness. Instead, “joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of (our lives), the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  Positive thinking is a weak and wavering substitute to God’s promised JOY! Just as “peace that passes our human understanding” can be found in Him, God’s joy can be ours as well. Let’s remember the goodness of our Father and what He has promised:
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy…” Psalm 16:1.
“The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on,
and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
and with my song will I praise Him,” Psalms 28.
The Springs of Life
When we are upheld by God’s joy, our might is bolstered! We can proceed each day with confidence, boldness, and His inspiration while extending help and hope to others. May we live believing that “all things are possible with God”(Luke 18:2) and that “everything is possible for him who believes!” (Mark 9:23). If, being Spirit-filled, you are still heavy in heart, ask the Father… He welcomes us when we press into Him! If means of “escapism” have been your enticement during these difficult times, I encourage you to consider the alternative of God’s Word. It is good “soul food”, providing discernment and truth with the promise of increasing your faith. Our perspectives are constantly shaped by the information we absorb through our eyes and our ears, depositing directly into our minds and hearts. Consequently, our dispositions and actions will follow:
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness!”
Matthew 6:22-23 (AMP).
“…pay attention to my words and be willing to learn; open your ears to my sayings.
Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.
For they are life to those who find them, and healing and health to all their flesh.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life,”
May His joy and strength be yours today!