Joy unspeakable and full of glory! The joy of the Lord is our strength! Count it all joy when trials come!
All these facets of joy in the Word would indicate that there is really something to joy. Such a small word with such grand implications. In my post Strength, I covered the strength aspect of joy, but I want to dig a little deeper and see all that joy brings.
This first quote is from 1 Peter 1:8: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I grew up in a church that quoted King James and Amplified translations of the Bible, so that’s often what I remember quotes in. This phrase was repeated regularly on Sunday morning, but I never caught the first part. It’s a pastor’s job to connect the scriptures in a relevant and applicable way to his flock that they might see and understand the character of the father and too, seek his face. This portion of scripture was used is such a way, yet I never took time on my own to look up these scriptures. That is ,y part in the relationship with Jesus, to find out for myself what his Word says. Let’s see another translation of this scripture to better understand what it is telling us.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
Jesus is the him here. Peter is talking about how our faith to believe in Jesus and love him fills us with such a glory-saturated joy and we can’t physically express it. Woah! Did you know that’s what faith brings? Are you experiencing this inexpressible, unspeakable joy with your salvation?
Next, we have Nehemiah 8:10, a portion of scripture that I believe is very well known in the church. It’s painted on decorations and printed on journals. It’s quoted at every challenge and that’s great! The one thing that surprised me about this scripture when I looked it up for myself is that this too is the latter half of a much longer scripture.
“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Why did the people need this exhortation? Because Ezra got up in front of them and was reading the Law of Moses and with the charge of rebuilding an entire city wall in less than two months, they were bummed. They needed to be reminded that the day is indeed holy and to rejoice about it. “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 If it’s day, God made it, it is holy, so let’s rejoice! Can you rejoice without joy? Of course not!
The people must know that the joy the Lord had planted in their hearts needs to be brought up through feasting and rejoicing because that is where he strengthens us.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:3-4
This is how James starts off his letter. Again, joy is linked to faith. When you begin to see how remaining strong in the joy of the Lord despite circumstance grows your trust in God, you want to keep that up. I know just this week, I’ve had opportunities to consider pure joy. I have been trusting God, having faith in the truth that he is my provider. When it looked like he wasn’t coming through I knew that wasn’t true and I kept in the faith JOYFULLY. Being joyful instead of defeated gave me the strength to be so grateful. Then circumstances radically turned around and ended better than I could’ve imagined. Looking back on the challenging moments, I’m overwhelmed with even more gratitude because this time, I was obedient to God’s word and remained joyful. So when circumstances became joyful, my joy was just made complete, not determined by them. For when we are to live by faith and not by sight, it’s always encouraging to know that you’ve done that. Remember that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) living in you and you can continually draw it up for strength so your faith can grow.