The prophet Nehemiah makes an interesting declaration very familiar to both Jews and Christians when he says, “… and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8. 10b RSV) The joy of the Lord is to be our strength. The joy of the Lord… But how so? Thinking about this, then, we are to both possess and abide in the joy of the Lord. But how? A few important points come to mind that I’d like to share:
First, we possess and abide in the joy of the Lord by knowing and abiding in Truth, the eternal truth of God. Our Lord Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8. 32 RSV) And so we pray with the Psalmist, “Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long,” (Psalm 25. 5 NRSV) confident that “all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 25. 10a NRSV) And in this knowledge there is certainly joy, true?
Second, in the 22nd Psalm we are taught something very interesting, that is: God, the Holy One, lives and makes His home “in the praises of Israel,” His people. (cf. Psalm 22. 3 NJB) God “inhabits” the praises of His people. (cf. the AV) So “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4. 4 ESV) Yes, “the righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in him; and all that are upright of heart shall rejoice!” (Psalm 64. 10 Geneva) And so we should continually praise God and rejoice in Him, and here also we will surely find joy.
Third, we need to get out of ourselves, which may at first sound strange … but as believers, our identity is found in Christ. As the apostle, St. Paul, says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3. 3 ESV) And again, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2. 20a ESV) And “greater is He that is within you than he who is in the world.” (I John 4. 4b AV) And the One who lives in us is the personification of perfect love, and “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4. 18a ESV)
So, how do we possess and abide in the joy of the Lord? We know and abide in Truth; we continually praise God and rejoice in Him; and we find our identity in Christ who, by His Spirit, lives in and through us. There may be more to add, but this is certainly an excellent beginning! God bless one and all!