“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 CSB
I became a mom after trying for seven years to conceive, and I was surprised to find the answer to my prayer more difficult than the long wait. During my waiting, God was gracious to speak to me during times of discouragement and frustration. I trusted His voice, His love, and His timing. He gave me joy during the waiting.
I knew God would answer my prayer and continued to wait five more years. I didn’t expect His answer to push, reveal, and grow me like it has.
Hearing our daughter’s heartbeat and sharing God’s miracle with our family and friends was sheer delight. Our daughter’s delivery was altogether another story. After two days of trauma and an emergency surgery to save both our lives, we were thankful for life and the opportunity to go home as a new family of three.
Having to wait for something for so long and trusting we were in God’s hands during all the battles, made our miracle daughter so much more precious to us. We appreciated God’s gift more than if it had come easy. We were thankful for the waiting and the hearts of gratitude God had transformed in us.
Over the next three months — with a difficult recovery, multiple infections, tremendous lack of sleep, and a husband who traveled extensively for his job — all was stripped away and I simply camped out in the throne room of grace.
I felt like I had my sleeping bag a few steps away from Jesus’s feet. I was welcomed to stay put as long as needed. I knew I couldn’t survive if I didn’t. There was no guilt or hurriedness or condemnation for not being stronger. Jesus welcomed me, loved me, and enveloped me with His Spirit, the only thing holding me together.
I cried a lot. Hot tears flowing from pain but also a place of pure joy like I had never experienced. He allowed both suffering and beauty in the deepest part of me to change my vision and transform my spirit, to alter me into the kind of love where others only see Jesus. This kind of love brings holy joy, beyond anything we can conjure up or try to create ourselves.
When I was delirious from cluster feeding my daughter or feeling a complete lack of patience that frightened me, I would think to myself, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 CBS), and His Spirit would remind me of what I needed — joy and strength, in that order.
Like a sweet little envelope exploding with hand-cut heart confetti, I continue to be overjoyed at the blessing God has given me in my daughter. The harder days have gotten easier, but I think back to wonder: what is the joy of the Lord? My heart knew at the time, but my brain hadn’t caught up yet.
“The joy of the Lord is your strength” is a verse found in Nehemiah (8:10). I was surprised that David hadn’t penned it in the Psalms. But it’s written by a guy building a wall, doing backbreaking work to secure his people from the enemy (sounds like motherhood).
The people had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and were hungry for the Lord. Ezra had given a powerful teaching and they were motivated to listen. God’s truth revealed to them their true selves and their sin, and they mourned greatly. They couldn’t rely on themselves, but the grace of God was more than enough. That called for joy.
I know it’s hard to have joy. Some days it’s difficult even to be happy, much less thrive with a contented heart, full of peace no matter your circumstances.
True joy can only come from the Lord. It’s of Him. In turn we are strengthened. We can have joy because we have Jesus. Joy is a miracle. Only the Holy Spirit can create it. And just like the great joy that was set before Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, I am learning there is usually suffering mixed in with the beauty for us to be transformed for the glory of God. Until we allow God to work in all our circumstances, only then can we experience the joy of the Lord.
“Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Let us not grow weary or lose heart. The joy of the Lord truly can give us the strength we need to continue no matter the situation, not only fueling us to continue but allowing us to receive the true joy, peace, and hope our souls so desperately long for.
My prayer for you is that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13), not despite your circumstances but because of them. To God be the glory in the beauty and the suffering.
This devotion is by Stephanie Bryant as published in the (in)courage Devotional Bible
Join us here at (in)courage each weekend leading up to Christmas as we share excerpts from the (in)courage Devotional Bible, learn more about the promises of God, and count down to Christmas together. We invite you to take a moment to observe, reflect, and respond:
OBSERVE Who is God? What are you learning about God’s character from His promises?
REFLECT Where is God? How is He moving during this busy season?
RESPOND Pray, confess, and give thanks. How will today’s promise from God make your Christmas richer?Leave a Comment