Nehemiah said… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10b)
Take a Moment to ponder
We have gone six (6) months in this year so far and it was just impossible to anticipate what would be happening when we started out in January. I saw a meme that read, “I would like to cancel my subscription for 2021. I have used the free fourteen (14) day trial and I am not interested” Unfortunately the calendar-changing does not necessarily correlate to a change or new outlook on life or new circumstances.
The brokenness of the world continued when we entered 2021. With that brokenness also came fear in the face of many unknowns. Why is that? Because we live in a broken world, and we ourselves are broken. Both the world’s brokenness and our own does not adhere to the calendar. The issues are evergreen and demand consistent work.
A change in the calendar will not magically re-set everything. However, something else, something bigger – is happening as well; “for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)
God’s Spirit is always on the move, and one of the ways He manifests Himself is how God counters the fears that continually raise its ugly head. The Bible reassures us of God’s help as we live our lives in this imperfect world. We are told: “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18); “Do not be anxious about anything”; (Philippians 4:6); “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27}; For the Spirit God gave us, does not make us timid but gives us power” (2 Timothy1:7)
After the year we experienced in 2020, it is expected that we would enter 2021, living in places of anxiety and fear, more frequently. If this, is you, do not despair! Because joy, that vibrant cheerfulness and calm delight that is rooted in God’s goodness – is a gift that God is continually offering to us, if we will trustingly accept it. The Psalmist declares: “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:11).
Can we honestly say that in the past year we have realized this to be true? Because of the massive change brought about by the pandemic, we have had to disregard our false sense of control, and our eyes have been opened to the one true reality: Jesus is the only one who knows everything, and He is in full control.
And as we make our way through what seems like another year of pain and fear, and uncertainty, there is a gift for us: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:19). Not only does God desire that we find peace and contentment in him, but it is as if He is saying; “oh yes, there is even more to the gift!
Zephaniah 3:17 reads; “the Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves, He will take great delight in you; in his love, he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing”.
This is a beautiful imagery! The Creator of the Universe showers us with this gift called “joy”. Have you ever come home to a puppy, who believes without a doubt that you are simply the best? If so, then maybe you have glimpsed a bit of what God wants us to experience in our relationship with him.
The truth is that for many people, even Christians, joy does not come easily, especially when facing so many changes in our way of life. But, as we learn to accept the gift, and work to make it part of our daily lives, something incredible begins to happen; “the joy of the Lord becomes our strength” for the days ahead. (Nehemiah 8:10).
If God is a God of joy and if He created us in such a way that we can have the ability to change how we act, respond, and see the world, then what is stopping us from re-discovering this incredible gift of joy that God so naturally displays, and so generously provides for us? We are the only thing getting in the way of taking this gift!
Where to Begin:
1. Ask God what it means to take the gift of joy today and commit to accepting this gift daily.
2. Reflect on what joy through this lens of “calm delight” means to you.
3. Do a word search for the word “joy” in scripture and consider the impact of joy in each situation
4. Put it into practice! What does joy manifested look like to you? And how will you offer that gift to others as well
A Moment in Prayer:
Loving Lord, we are so happy to have you as our Friend, guiding our weary, faltering steps. You follow us with Your eye of love. Grant us hearts of compassion, so burdened for others’ needs, that we will show Your kindness in attitudes, words, and deeds; and bring glory and honour to You.
Although we are imperfect, you can use us still. Your faithfulness, we have known throughout the years; Your oneness with us in our tears and our joys. So many times, you have helped us through and given us strength anew.
Fill us with all joy and peace that together we may praise you and live this day in love for You and one another. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Rev Melrose Wiggan