Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Joy of the Lord

Circumstances in my life have been weighing on me this week. I blogged last week about the personal crisis we were going through. While disaster is not imminent, still there are so many things about this situation that I wish were different. This week it has weighed on me especially. I haven't worried about it so much as I've just been dragged down about it. It just seems that all conversational roads lead here. All prayers end up here. There's no getting away from the burden. Two weeks ago I was confident that God was in control and He was working His will in all this. After examining things closely last night, I realized I still believe that for the most part. The miraculous way He's worked so far has proven that. So why am I still uneasy? Why is there no peace? I thought maybe the Holy Spirit was prompting me to pray harder. But I just didn't sense that there was a looming crisis in all this. There was just no peace. I hadn't really taken it out of the Lord's hands and worried about it myself either. So what was the problem?
The Gospel of Mark, chapter 9 tells of a father who comes to Jesus, asking for healing for his son. Jesus tells him in verse 23, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." In verse 24, the father cries out with tears, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." It's almost as if the father is saying, I'm trying, but I can't do this by myself. I found myself asking God last night to help my unbelief. Even then, I knew that wasn't the whole problem.
Psalm 20 and Psalm 37 have been a tremendous source of encouragement to both me and my husband during this time. Last night when I went to bed, I read through Psalm 20 again, focusing on the words and trying to claim God's promises. I prayed again for God to help my faith and was starting to close my Bible when the first verse of Psalm 21 caught my eye. The first line says, "The king shall joy in thy strength". That phrase made me think of that old chorus, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." So I looked that phrase up. It's found in Nehemiah 8:10. I started turning the phrase over in my mind. I had not been strong this week. I struggled a great deal. Then I realized something. Although we have turned this burden over to the Lord, I was still letting the circumstances rob me of my joy. That described how I was feeling perfectly! No joy! And because I didn't have joy in the Lord, I wasn't strong either.
Does this mean I should be happy with things the way they are? I don't think so. But even when circumstances are overwhelming, you can still have joy in the Lord. He's still in control. And I know that He is also the One that gives me strength to do what needs to be done. So last night I asked Him to help me have joy in Him. Joy in serving Him. We have a great week coming up at our church with Vacation Bible School. There's much joy to be had, and I can't let circumstances steal that joy away. Especially since it also steals my strength to endure. The joy of the Lord is my strength. Once again God gives me something encouraging just when I need it. Isn't God great?

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