“The joy of the Lord is my strength!
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
The jo-oy of the Lo-ord is my strength!”
As a teen, I would gleefully and complacently sing this song with my peers. Guitars rocking, hands clapping, even some dancing in praise.
But, as an adult I have struggled with believing, ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’, or at least the ‘joy’ part. Perhaps it is my personality, perhaps my life experiences, perhaps stubborn unbelief that joy can be a reality. I remember a friend praying that I would have more joy in my Christian life. What is that joy, and how does that relate to strength?
It was the Jewish wall builder, Nehemiah, who first spoke this phrase to thousands of weeping Israelites. From dawn til noon, the Law was read and explained by Ezra, the priest, and “all the people wept as they listened…” What was pounding in their hearts and minds through the tears? Was it guilt from gross sin, deep sorrow in betraying their loving God, regret for wasted opportunity to influence the pagans around them, or was it tears of remembering how God’s law comforted and guided in the past? But, in that moment of weeping, Nehemiah speaks, “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.” Nehemiah 8:10
As a 21st century believer, this astounds me. How even in my sin, my betrayal, my doubt, and my complaining, God would say don’t grieve, but be strengthened by the joy of Me. The joy that I have forgiven you, the joy of my Word guiding you, the joy that I love you still.
O God, I thank you for the undeserving strength You give through the joy of You!
Entering the third year of the pandemic, most of us have gone through so much and have struggled to find joy and strength for each day. What a timely comfort and encouragement to be reminded of the truth that, even in pain, grief, or chaos, God is our strength, our joy. The joy of Him is our strength.
That’s why I’m looking forward to the launch next month of The God of Strength, a devotional book written by students, alumni, staff, and faculty in celebration of IGSL’s 40th anniversary. The devotional above is one of the 40 stories that we pray would help you “joyfully discover the stories of God’s strength in your own life.”
Our series of special events continue next month to celebrate the anniversary with different members of the IGSL community.
|(Click the corresponding poster above to enlarge or to go to the registration form.)
For alumni and potential students in South Asia, please register for the online event on March 1, Why Choose IGSL. For ministry partners, see you online on March 5 at 8 PM Manila time for 40fied for L.I.F.E. Please RSVP and get the Zoom link.
For all members of the IGSL community, students, alumni, staff, faculty, ministry partners, and board members, please register for our culminating event on March 28 at 9 AM Manila time. The celebration will be both on-site and virtual. We desire to celebrate with many of you in-person. However, due to the safety protocols in place, the number of guests that may be accommodated inside IGSL is limited. We shall prioritize acceptance in the physical venue according to the order of your registration. Those who will qualify to come physically will receive an email confirmation. For those who will be joining virtually, there are two options to join: via Zoom or Facebook live. You will be asked about your option at registration. We are all looking forward to celebrating with you whether on-site or online. See you soon!
|Yours for the fulfillment of the Great Commission,
Dr. Cris Uy