The joy of the Lord is my strength. I heard this popular bible verse from Nehemiah 8:10 over and over but I struggled to understand what it meant for the longest time.
How can God’s joy be our strength? How does joy make us stronger? How can joy be our strength when we don’t feel any joy during tough seasons?
To first understand how ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’, we need to understand the context of this bible verse and where it came from in the Bible.
Context is important for understanding any bible verse. If you haven’t read the full book of Nehemiah, I highly encourage you to spend some time in this story of how Nehemiah led the Israelites into rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.
We can learn so much from this story – lessons on leadership, how God gives his people favor, how to stand strong against opposition, how God moves the hearts of his people to come together for his Kingdom, how to repent and turn back to the Lord, and much more.
‘The Joy of the Lord is My Strength’ came into the picture after the Israelites had rebuilt the wall. Nehemiah led them in the rebuild; he led them and encouraged them to stand strong against opposition from their enemies, and he led them in repentance and turning back to the Lord.
Rebuilding the wall was a physical rebuilding but the Israelites still had to rebuild their hearts; their hearts had been far from God. Spiritually, they had been destroyed just like the wall of Jerusalem and they needed to turn back to God who could build them up again.
So Nehemiah starts reading God’s Word to the people and they start weeping. They realize how much they have disobeyed God’s commands and have sinned. They weep because they’ve come to the realization of how badly they’ve sinned and dishonored God.
This is where we see ‘The Joy of the Lord is My Strength’ come into the story.
“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” – Nehemiah 8:10
Nehemiah is telling the people that they don’t need to be sad about their sins; they can rejoice because they have been forgiven and because God is with them.
God wants his people to repent and come back to him but he doesn’t want them to feel bad or live in shame for what they’ve done. The Bible tells us that when a sinner repents, the angels rejoice in heaven.
God’s word should not make us feel shame or guilt over our sins; God’s word should draw us back to God himself to receive forgiveness. And once we’ve repented and confessed our sins to God, we are able to rejoice with God. This joy becomes our strength as we realize we have been made right with God.
We no longer have to live in sin or shame. We no longer have to live in guilt. We can rejoice with joy and celebrate that we have been forgiven and that God is for us. We can rejoice and have joy that we have a clean slate, a fresh start to live for God.
So I finally understood why God wants us to have joy and rejoice, but how do we practically use joy as our strength? In hard times or times of trouble, how do we declare this verse and draw from the joy of the Lord as our strength?
Whenever you are going through a hard season or trial in life, it may be hard to have joy in the midst of all the chaos and disappointment. How can you have joy when you are facing a storm?
No matter what you are going through, no matter how difficult your circumstances are around you, just remember that God is always with you.
God is with you and he is for you. God will not leave you or abandon you in this crisis. He has not forsaken you or left you to fend for yourself.
Just like the men that were thrown in the fire in the book of Daniel, Jesus was there in the fire with them. You may even see and feel God’s presence more in your life in difficult seasons.
As a follower of Christ, God is always with you. You do not need to worry about facing trials or storms in life alone. The more you root yourself in Christ, you can rely on God to give you the joy and strength you need to get through these difficult seasons.
It’s easy to get upset or disappointed when things don’t go our way. Our house may not be how we want. Our appearance may not be in our best shape. We may have lost money or lost out on an opportunity that we were praying for.
When I find myself getting upset or worried about something, I ask myself, Will this matter in heaven? Will it matter in the long run? How would Jesus feel about this? Can I bring this to heaven?
When I focus on what matters to Jesus and things that have eternal value, I instantly feel peace over trivial things I had been worried about. I can’t bring my house to heaven. I can’t bring my car to heaven. I’ll get a new body in heaven.
When I remind myself of what really matters, I am able to have more joy because I know that most of my worries and concerns won’t matter in eternity.
I can have joy by reminding myself of what really matters to Jesus.
If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence living within you at all times; he helps us, guides us, speaks to us, and comforts us. And he also is the source of fruit in our life that make us more like Christ.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and is already inside of you when you receive the Holy Spirit. When you feel like you are losing your joy, remember that you already have it. Pray and ask your Holy Spirit to tap into that joy inside of you. Pray and thank the Holy Spirit for filling you with the joy that God has already given you.
If you feel like you’ve lost your joy in a season, just remember that you are never lost in God. God has not lost you and he has not taken the joy from you that he put inside of you.
Pray and ask God for you to discover the joy again that is already inside of you.
If you are a follower of Christ, you can have joy because you are going to heaven. You are a child of God and Jesus has already paid the price for your sins. God has already given you a deposit of your inheritance, he has given you the Holy Spirit as a down payment and remembrance that heaven is your home.
In a world where many people do not know Jesus, we must remember that God and the promise of eternity in heaven should be a reason to have joy in itself.
No matter how hard some people try, they are unable to find happiness or joy in this world because they do not have God in their lives. But as a follower of Christ, you know that loving God is what matters and you already have the love of God inside of you.
In any tough situation you face that is threatening to steal your joy, you can have joy just remembering that you already have God and that you are going to heaven.
When you remember what matters most in life, you will be able to let things go. Because you have a relationship with God, you will be able to have more peace and joy as others complain around you. You know your identity and purpose in life as a follower of Christ and that is what matters most. You can relax because no trial or storm will change who you are or where you are spending eternity.
When others around you are giving up, you’ll be able to stand strong and persevere because you know that God is with you and that no trial or circumstance can take God or eternity away from you.
When you shift your perspective and remember what really matters in life, your joy will become your strength. You’ll be able to not only endure difficult seasons but you’ll be able to soar and thrive through trials because you know what really matters.
Your joy in Jesus Christ will get you through any trial, storm or battle that you face. Your joy will become your strength!
You’ll be able to have peace and joy when others are upset around you. You’ll be able to sleep at night, knowing that God is with you and that he is fighting your battles.
You’ll be able to rejoice because you know that God is in control and that he works all things for good. You can rejoice because you know that God is strengthening you through this season.
Your joy will be your strength because you know that God will get you through any season or trial you are in. You can rejoice because you’ve already been saved and chosen by Jesus Christ and nothing can separate you from the love of God.
God's joy and strength are available to each one of us and become more evident in our lives the close we get to Jesus.
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‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’ helps remind me how to have more joy in difficult seasons. If you want more bible verses to declare to have more strength with God, these are some of my favorites that carried me through difficult seasons.
When you need more strength, declaring bible verses are powerful. Write the verse on an index card. Carry it with you throughout your day on a post-it note. Make a bible verse your phone wallpaper.
Start each day with a verse that speaks to you and watch how God gives you the strength you need to soar through each day.
This bible verse carried me through a tough season at work. I had been traveling for many weeks in a row, spending Sunday through Friday all the way across the country, and I felt exhausted, weary, and I missed my friends and Christian community at home. I was traveling for work and was surrounded by other people who did not have a relationship with God and who took pride in the drinking corporate culture.
The Bible says to store God's commands in our heart and tie loyalty and kindness around our neck so I bought a necklace that says ‘soar’ on it to remind me of this verse.
Every day before leaving my hotel room, I would grab my necklace and pray this verse. I would thank God for renewing my strength. I would thank him not only for helping me get through the day, but for giving me the strength to soar and succeed in the day ahead. I would thank him for refreshing me when I felt tired and for giving me the energy I needed to be his ambassador in my workplace.
Such a simple, yet powerful verse. I declare this verse in tough seasons and I also declare it in the simple, mundane tasks of everyday life. I even recite it in my head when I am feeling exhausted at the end of a tough work out to give me an extra boost.
You can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you, not just some things. Nothing is too hard or too impossible for God. You can rely on the strength of your Spirit inside of you to well up when you need more strength.
God reminds us over and over again in the Bible not to fear. He is with us and we do not need to worry about him leaving us, especially in tough situations.
If God has called us to something or if we are currently going through a trial, we can trust and rely on God to strengthen us. He will not put us in situations that we are not strong enough for.
Rather, God teaches us how to rely on him in difficult seasons and strengthens us in the process. We see that we are capable of things we never thought possible with God by our side.
The Bible tells us that trials produce perseverance, so choose to have joy as you remember that God is strengthening you in this difficult season.
Whenever I feel nervous or am afraid to face a situation, I remind myself that God is my shield. He is with me and he will protect me. He is walking ahead of me, and he will give me the strength I need to get through the trial ahead.
I can have joy because I know God will help me. I can praise him in worship before the battle is over because I know that there is victory with God.
The more we praise and give thanks to God during our battles, we will feel his strength, joy, and peace rising up in us.
As a child of God, God has already armed you for battle. No matter what trial or storm you are facing, God has already equipped you to face this battle.
God doesn’t promise us that there won’t be trials or battles in life, but he does promise to be with us and give us victory. God actually calls us to engage and take possession; he wants us to learn how to fight and stand strong in battles so we can take possession of the blessings God wants to give us.
God led Joshua and the Israelites through so many battles as they entered the Promised Land. Don’t you think God could have just handed their enemies over to them without them having to fight? But God called them to fight. He called them to engage. He called them to have faith and trust in God for victory.
If you are facing a battle right now, don’t be discouraged or doubt that God isn’t with you. God has already prepared and equipped you to fight this battle and he will give you the strength you need to win.
Declaring God’s word is so important to stand strong and to resist temptation. I know how hard it is to resist temptation, especially with sexual sin, which is why I created a free 7-Day Devotional & Video to help you resist temptation.
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