The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

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Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)

I have written an account about my imperfections in Far From Perfect and have tried to make light of them. Months after, it is still my most popular post. I don't know why, but I can only guess that it is because many can relate to our desire to be perfect, yet time and again we fumble, stumble and fall. And I can also guess that by now many of us are barely clinging through our New Year's resolutions and some may even have totally quit and abandoned ship. I understand. (This coming from a "no-resolution" gal, after having been disappointed by my own imperfect self lots of times.)

Today, however, I am coming from a more hopeful place. And I wish to take you with me.

Most mornings, now that my older daughter is going to school, I sing my anthem. It goes like this, "The joy of the Lord is my strength. My mouth is full of laughter --- hahahahaha.  Hahahahahahaha-ha-hallelujah!" And mind you, I may start solo but before long I am joined by a couple of beautiful angels with rice in their hair and black sweaty rings around their necks. And before I know it, Angelika is ready for school and the attention-getting, whining, clingy Ella is all sweet and ready to bid her older sister goodbye with "Po-po e-er!" (Her way of saying, "We'll pick you up later!")

I have sang this song when I was left with the care of my two children back in Korea, while my husband had to work in another province of the same country but much, much farther away from our temporary home at that time. He was only home at weekends. I had just given birth to an adorable baby and having an active tot acting like he can't get enough of mama's attention was insanity. My husband and I thought that it would be easier for me to recover from just giving birth and take care of the baby with my son away for the day at a baby school. I agreed. Anything would do to have some semblance of normalcy. 

So every morning I got my son ready for the school bus that would pick him up (and later bring him back home), but the new baby seemed to sense that something was amiss. She would get all whiny, making all these pitiful sounds. I sweated through all the process. 

I thought it was better for me to have some time with the baby, and it was, but in exchange for an early morning madness. By the time my baby and I would see my son off to school, I was a lump of nerves. The only thing that got me through was the song--- The joy of the Lord is my strength! I would sing it and something changed in me. I seem to gain power from the Lord to do what I had to do, and my children sensed that change and are more secured, mirroring my confident, happier disposition. Thus that, that song became my anthem. I still continue to sing it now, especially during one of those mad mama moments.

One favorite writer wrote, "We are to live in the warm, genial rays of the Sun of Righteousness. Nothing but His loving compassion, His divine grace, His almighty power can enable us to baffle the relentless foe and subdue the opposition of the human heart. What is our strength? The joy of the Lord. Let the melting love of Christ fill the heart and we are softened and subdued, prepared to receive the power that He has for us" (E.G. White, The Upward Look, 238).

We have to thank God everyday for His blessings of strength, grace, forgiveness and mercy. He has given us all that is needed to get past difficulties and challenges, and to reach our highest potential. It is ridiculous to think that we can achieve perfection on our own, because come to think of it, with our puny strength, we can not. Only when we realize how futile our self-sufficiency is, are we able to draw near to God with a humble heart and fully depend upon Him. In so doing, He "engraves His own image" in our souls. It is only by beholding Christ and seeking to become like Him will we see and know that we will never be satisfied until we are complete in Him. Colossians 2:10, "And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power."

Only Christ has the redeeming power to change us from "glory to glory". It is foolishness to think that we can do so. Our hearts, where most of our life comes from, is soiled and sin-stained, perverse and depraved; and we cannot clean it just as we cannot change the color of our skin, nor add to our own height (I'm 4'11" and still wishing for "that" 1 more inch). But praise be to God! Jesus will never neglect the work that has been placed in His hands. "Having confidence of this very thing, that He who has begun in you a good work will complete it..." (Philippians 1:6).

Be warned though that as you earnestly try to be like Jesus, the enemy will oppose you at every turn, and when you fumble and stumble and fall, he will make you discouraged and think that following Jesus is impossible. No, don't ever let him get to you. Take hold of God's mighty arm. With Him we can have the strength to, day after day, be complete and go in His strength. And everyday as we follow the Lord, we are changed; and will find ourselves tomorrow not as we are today.

As I fully depend on God daily as my source of strength, many of my mornings are redeemed. How marvelous it is to be able to smile through the sweat, rain, or tears! He fills every spaces of our hearts with joy, flowing through the cracks of our brokenness and into every crevices of our lives, our families and our communities. In our joy in Him, we find strength for our homes and our everyday for He completes us.

Whatever is your struggle today, find your joy in Him to get you through in His strength. Yes, sing it with me: "The joy of the Lord is my strength! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hallelujah!"

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