Oct 8, 2008

The Lord's joy is my strength

I've been wrestling with the phrase, "the joy of the Lord is my strength." I looked it up, and it comes from Nehemiah 8:9-11. The 10th verse makes it very clear: "do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Honestly, I've wondered how joy could be the prescription for grief and for the sense of weakness that comes with grieving.

I've realized recently that the joy that is our strength isn't a joy that we necessarily experience all the time. Our strength comes from the unchanging truth that God is constantly rejoicing because of his perfect knowledge of all things, his perfect control over all circumstances, and his ultimate victory over all his enemies. The Israelites grieved after hearing God's law, probably because they realized they hadn't and couldn't keep his law. But, the leaders told them not to grieve and pointed them to the One who was full of joy at his own victory over their sin. In the same way, the Lord is constantly rejoicing in his own perfect knowledge of our circumstances and in his own victorious control over them.

I don't have His vantage point, but when I recognize that He is always rejoicing I understand that He must see and know something I don't know. I can find strength in that. God knows and controls the outcome of Ian's situation, and somehow it's good, though I don't understand how. When I look up to Him through my sadness wondering how things went so wrong for Ian and Larissa and I recognize that He is compassionately and confidently rejoicing despite Ian's circumstances, I can draw strength from that.

The Lord's joy is my strength.

Thank you for continuing to pray for Ian and for sharing in our struggle.



Darci said...

Still praying.

Sharon said...

Steve, thank you for the reminder from God's Word -- that His ways are not our ways, but we can rest in that thought, especially when we remember what He has done in the past as answered prayer.

Continuing to lift you all up in prayer to our Lord -- for His abundant and amazing grace to fill your hearts this day, week, month, year..... Blessings,

Stephanie said...

Murphys et al.,

We continue to pray for you on the other side of the world.

the Freemans

Anonymous said...

Although I may not have the qualifications to says this, I think your interpretation of this scripture, The joy of the Lord is my strength,' is sound and your post most edifying.

When I was little we used to sing this as a scripture-in-song chorus followed by "He fills my mouth with laughter, Ha ha ha ha ha" and an even more frivilous "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha." How little we understood of the depth of this text.

Looking at this text through your eyes heightens its true grandness. Thanks again for the good example Larissa, you, and your family are setting for many people.

Anonymous said...

thank you steve...your comments, through so much pain, are good for my heart. to see you writing such truth (and i know it is, even though i struggle with it as well) is more meaningful to me than a verse can be. really, it is only by god's grace that we can continue to look to him for help. i am so glad you are my friend. gigi

Anonymous said...

Hey, I found this blog through "The Blazing Center" a few weeks ago, and I just wanted to tell you how much y'all have encouraged me. I appreciate your openness and sincerity. I've been going through what I thought was a hard time, but after seeing y'all being so strong in this situation I don't feel so sorry for myself.

Thank you for pointing out this passage--your words were so encouraging, and indeed strengthening.

Larissa, there was an article on Girl Talk a few days ago (you can check it out here: http://girltalk.blogs.com/girltalk/2008/10/gifted-to-do-hi.html) that I thought might encourage you. I know that you are not married to Ian, but you are obviously his match, and as such you are uniquely gifted to do him good. You are able to encourage, strengthen and help him in ways that nobody else can! The article says it much better than I can, but I thought that I would do my best to encourage you to "keep on keepin' on". Your example has helped me so much, and as many others have said, God is using you in a powerful way.

"He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."" 2 Corinthians 12:9

God Bless Y'all!

--A Sister from the South

Anonymous said...

This mornings daily devotion by Joni Erickson Tada was very significant in this theme of finding joy in suffering; the joy of divine grace. For those not familiar with Joni, she is a person of God who was paralysed in an accident at a early age.


An exerpt from today's devotion:

The Price of Identifying

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity.
--Hebrews 2:14

When we are hurting, if there is one thing that eases our pain or grief, it is this: We want someone to understand. We want somebody to really identify with us, to have some idea of what we're enduring.

It is certainly like that for me. I hate feeling alone and alienated in those dark times when my paralysis seems overwhelming. On my really rough days, it helps to remember what the Bible tells us about Jesus identifying with us in our sufferings. It says that he was tested and tried in every way like us. That helps! When it comes to suffering, the Lord Jesus has gone ahead of us, and has intimate, experiential, first-hand knowledge of the pain, the weight, the frustration, and the struggle. He appreciates. He understands. He connects.

But it works both ways! Not only does Christ identify with us in our suffering, we identify with him in his suffering. He identifies with us, and we identify with him. He appreciates all that it means to be human, and we appreciate all that his divine grace supplies. Through suffering, he participates in our humanity; through suffering, we participate in his divinity.

So why do we struggle so to escape our suffering? Why do we look so desperately for release? I suppose this is why I'm not earnestly seeking to be healed and raised up out of this wheelchair. I see this trial of mine as a window into the heart of Jesus. Suffering is a connecting point between my Savior and me. And when I see his great love on the cross, it gives me courage to take up my cross and follow him.

God will bless

Minori family

Anonymous said...

What an insight!
Thank you, Steve.
Thank you for posting the Minori's comments.
Thank you, Minoris for your comments.
Thank You, Lord, for being the Good and Loving God that You are! Why, oh why, would You want to identify yourself so intimately with Your creation when You are so high above us? Yet, You keep Your loving eyes on us; we are always in Your thoughts. And when we perceived that You were far off, You came to us as a man to live among us and experience humanity. But, You didn't stop there! Because of Your immeasurable love for us, You redeemed us, bought us back at the greatest price: Your own precious blood shed for us. And even until today "the Lord is constantly rejoicing in his own perfect knowledge of our circumstances and in his own victorious control over them".
How Great is our God!

Still Praying!

Mary Ann K.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! to Mary Ann's comments!
Continual prayers ESPECIALLY that Ian will soon be able to talk to you all. That is MY specific prayer. I praise God for all the progress that Ian AND the whole family has made! To God be the glory! Rene