“Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).
“The oil of joy calms down the waves of trouble.” — Andrew Bonar
“Life need not be easy to be joyful. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” — William Vander Hoven
“The Christian’s midnight is brighter than the sinner’s noon.” — Source Unknown
A significant revival was underway among God’s people. Nehemiah and Ezra recovered the Word of the Lord and taught it to the people. When they heard the words of the Law, Israel wept. Now in chapter eight those intense dealings were giving way to rejoicing. Here we read, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” The exhausting work of conviction is yielding to a life-giving flood tide of joy! A joyful heart energizes the spirit and the body.
Hardships can sap one’s strength. Illness, especially chronic illness, can be draining. It influences not only the person who is sick, but also other people around. Caregiving is a wearying task. When your body is tired, it impacts your spirit. Emotional, mental, and physical depletion will affect a person’s resilience. One man said, “You are no more spiritual than you are rested.” It is difficult to sense the presence of God when you are wiped out. Depletion can cause depression, and depression frequently triggers depravity. Have you ever noticed how you are more susceptible to sinning when you are tired? When resilience is waning, inappropriate things pour into your mind like a torrent. These bombarding thoughts war against the soul. Frayed nerves exacerbate wrong reactions and poor responses. A tired body and soul can be the open door for Satan and your besetting sins.
Both guilt and grief have a deflating and depleting effect, but God is a recovery specialist. Adam and Eve recovered from the loss of Abel — God gave them Seth. Elisha recovered from the loss of Elijah — He got a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. The Israelites recovered from the loss of Moses — they got Joshua. David recovered from his loss of purity — his repentance brought restoration. Peter recovered from his denial of Christ — his bitter tears washed his soul clean. The disciples recovered from the loss of Jesus — they all received His Holy Spirit. Nobody lives on planet earth without eventually losing some-thing or some-body. Life’s losses often bring a cloud of despondency. So, when you suffer a loss, remember the following:
- Be patient with yourself. If you’ve lost a person, ability, or relationship, give yourself time to grieve through it.
- Be honest with yourself. If you have failed, then take your sins and plunge them beneath the blood of Jesus. Never forget that whatever the Light reveals, the Blood can heal. Personal revival is always the gateway to joy.
Wisdom is the ability to anticipate consequences — not only the negative consequences that result from sin, but the future harvest that will result from sowing good seeds in the present. Thanksgiving is a seed. Praise is a seed. Faith is a seed. Refuse to remain in emotional bondage. You must choose to sow if you expect your wintertime to break into a springtime of joy.
Whenever you have a setback, you need a comeback. Leave the past and move on to the next thing. Stop looking back. Start looking to the future. View your pain as a bridge, not a barricade, to the future. Use your energy to create new roads ahead of you instead of trying to repair the old roads behind you. Put things right as much as possible — then look ahead. Pray, plan, and prepare for tomorrow, and your emotional wellbeing will improve. Focus on the things in front of you, not the things behind you. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). It was future joy that strengthened Christ to endure the Cross. If you are redeemed, the best is yet to come! A bright tomorrow is promised. Anticipating a Heaven where sin, suffering, sickness, and Satan are banished can only bring joy to your soul.
- Is there anything you can do to ensure you’re getting adequate rest?
- Are you being both patient and honest with yourself about your sufferings and failings?
- Are you resting in God’s promises of rest to those that believe?
Taken from “Extraordinary Strength in Adversity” by Harold Vaughan. CLICK HERE for more information on the book.