It took me a while to understand that the joy of the Lord was my strength. I didn’t have joy for a while. I saw people at church filled with joy and they weirded me out. Having joy just wasn’t normal for me and those people displayed something that seemed very unnatural and yet it was also very appealing.They laughed all the time. They hugged all the time. Their joy appeared to be coming from nowhere and from everywhere at the same time. I wanted to approach the happy and joyful people. I wanted to be friends with them but I wasn’t sure how they would accept my sadness and my lack of the substance they had.
Joy was the substance that made them stand out and they associated it with God. Their joy came from God who was always in their mist. They were always hanging out together and the Lord was with them. He is with all of us but those folks had a strong awareness of His presence and they constantly referred to Him. It was “Jesus this and Jesus that” with them. They couldn’t get enough of the joyful Jesus and I was intrigued. My Jesus at the time was more somber and more serious. They knew Jesus in a way that I didn’t and their relationship with Him inspired me.
I became friends with the happy people and the more time I spent with them the more I saw the beautiful things Jesus could do in people’s lives. That joy, that amazing power that was working in their lives was from the Lord and not coming from them. They knew and they celebrated Jesus. They never presented the joy as something they had earned or something they had created. Jesus was the author of their joy and they adored Him. That was key. They adored the Lord and they embraced His presence.
Jesus is a joyful Lord. He is full of joy and He is full of life. His joy and His new life were dominant in the happy people and I was determined to understand their secret. It wasn’t after a few years that I got to the bottom of it. It wasn’t what I read and what I was told that revealed the secret. It was living out the joy of the Lord for myself that showed me what those people had. How did I discover the joy? For me, it came through sessions of praise and worship. I strongly believe that there is nothing more powerful than praising the Lord. Praising is a celebrating and exalting someone by expressing warm approval and admiration.
When we admire the Lord and “approve” of His majesty and sovereignty He comes onto the scene. He inhabits our praises and He shows up. He is full of joy so joy comes in. I got into the habit of praising the Lord every day. It changed how I prayed and it gave me a lot of joy. God’s joy is contagious. We can’t spend time with God without being contaminated with His joy. When joy is present, we feel strong and confident. We have peace and we know that nothing is impossible. Why is that?
When we praise the Lord regularly, we discover that His joy can come in even when we are feeling down. His joy can pierce into the darkest clouds and refresh the atmosphere. His joy is our strength. It is more powerful than the sadness and the sorrow of the enemy. Just the way I became friends with the happy people, I also became friends with joy. I started inviting the joy of the Lord every day no matter how I felt. That is the amazing thing about the joy of the Lord. It’s not conditional. It doesn’t care about our circumstances. It cares about Jesus and He is the most joyful One. Be friends with joy and you will break up with sadness. Praise the Lord!!!
Suggested reading: 1 Chronicles 16:26-27; Nehemiah 8:10; Philippians 4:4