“…For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

Like most people, I have longed to be happy. I have strived to make choices that lead to positive outcomes — eating healthy to avoid illness, choosing uplifting friends instead of those who lead me astray, working hard in order to be successful in my education, my job, and my family.

Over the years, I have faced many trials within my family and myself personally. Illnesses, deaths, broken relationships, anxiety, and depression have all been obstacles to my happiness — and have all happened outside of my control.

Somewhere along my Christian journey, I got caught up in the lie that I could control the course of my life: that I could pursue happiness, and achieve it. That the negative circumstances in my life were just detours I needed to navigate around in order to find my way back to my happy place.

God used my husband’s life-changing illness three years ago to open my eyes to a sin I was holding near to my heart. In the middle of one of my most difficult trials, I confessed that I was pursuing happiness instead of pursuing God alone. God’s joy washed over my heart.

His joy gave me the ability to be thankful in my present circumstances instead of focusing on trying to escape them. His joy enabled me to trust Him completely, instead of wrestling with my fears and doubting His love. It freed me from the worry I had for my own circumstances so I could help others in their own trials.

Lord, thank You for promising Your people the gift of joy through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Open my eyes to any sin that might be stopping me from experiencing Your joy. Fill me with Your joy so that I can glorify You in the midst of my circumstances. Amen.

Take Action

Read John 15:1-11. Jesus says, in verse 11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” How can verses 1-10 be applied in your circumstances so that you will be filled with the joy Jesus has?

Don't be discouraged if an answer doesn’t come right away — this is a difficult passage! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand God’s Word as you meditate on Jesus’ words throughout the week. And remind yourself often that the joy of the Lord is your strength!

Tags: suffering