What Does “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength” Mean? (how to find joy)

We’ve all heard this phrase before, “the joy of the Lord,” but what does it really mean? If you’re unsure, don’t worry because we’re going to take a closer look at this phrase and explore what scripture has to say about it.

Before we dive in, think about how it feels to have someone you love in your life. Think about that warm fuzzy feeling that person gives you, how you want to spend all your time with them, and how everything they do impacts your mood and how you feel.

This is the love that the Lord feels for us and it has a major role in describing the joy of the Lord.

What Does It Mean to Have Joy in the Lord?

To understand what this phrase means, we should first understand what it means to have joy in general. Having joy means you feel good, cheerful, and happy overall.

When we tie it into our relationship with Christ, it takes a much deeper, new meaning. It’s deep-rooted in our overall happiness for having a relationship with God. Let’s turn to the scripture to shine some light on this.

For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Whenever we feel upset, whether it’s about earthly matters or something spiritual, we feel sorrow. We wonder what we can do to possibly overcome something so horrible. We tend to take small matters and turn them into giant mountains but there’s nothing we can’t do with God.

Even more so, think about this from a different perspective. Think about how happy it makes God when we build a strong relationship with Him. This is exactly what God wants for us. He wants to know us and He wants us to know him. There’s amazing joy in this and it says so all throughout the Bible.

Romans 15:13

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Ecclesiastes 2:26

“To the person who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner, he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, like chasing after the wind.”

Let’s focus closely on the previous verse. The person who pleases God receives many benefits like wisdom and happiness. He’s saying that anyone who trusts and believes in Him will always receive the grace of God.

That too, is the joy of the Lord. This joy comes from knowing that we’re saved. We’ve already won because we know that God is on our side. No matter what we do, we have the ability to repent, praise Him, and go through life with the joy of knowing that our eternal life with Him is coming so there’s nothing to fear.

What Does the Bible Say About the Joy of the Lord?

There are many instances throughout the Bible discussing the joy of the Lord. Here are some verses of scripture that teach us how the Lord felt about certain situations. We can use these to help us better understand how to handle situations that bother us.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Romans 14:17 

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

John 15:11 

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 16:22 

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Psalm 30:5

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Hebrews 12:2 

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 5:11 

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Why Did Ezra Say the Joy of the Lord Is My Strength?

When Ezra said this, he was referring to a time of restoration. The ruined city is going to get repaired. This is a testament to the obedience of God.

There was much sorrow at the time because everyone had strayed so far from God’s teaching, but Ezra told them to celebrate anyway. He says to celebrate because the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Without the joy of the Lord, it’s hard to find the strength to celebrate in the midst of hardships. That’s why it’s important to do what is pleasing to God and have a relationship with Him.

Life was very hard during this time but above all else, everyone was believing in God again and this was seen as a time of greatness when the restoration of the faith took place.

Why Is Joy Important in the Bible

We all face tremendous challenges in our life but it’s how we get through those challenges that really shape us. God wants us to experience the best of life and that’s true even when we’re going through what seems like the end of the world.

There are many cases in scripture where God discusses how joy is something we deserve as His children. He wants us to be filled with joy.

God’s Presence Creates Joy

The first thing we want to talk about is how the very presence of God creates happiness. 1 Chronicles 16:27 says, “Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling.”

This verse is saying that all the pleasures we seek to find in this life come through our relationship with Jesus.

Everything He does creates pleasure for us, but we need to seek Him out more frequently. If we want to feel joy, we can’t only seek God when things are going well. We can still find joy in those moments when it feels like the world is crashing down. Even in those moments, we can find pure happiness.

Joy Is Always Possible

Here is a scenario that we’ve likely all faced at one time. We are doing well, reading the Bible, attending church, and developing a relationship with God. Then, something bad happens in our life that makes us lose our faith. We stop worshipping, praising, and attending church. Next thing you know, we’ve lost faith completely.

It’s so important to remember that even in times of turmoil, God’s love is still there. This is the blessing of Christ and God does not falter on His promises. He tells us that as long as we love Him, he will ensure that we’re okay.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

We need to trust in the Lord no matter what. This ultimately means we cannot depend on ourselves to handle everything that this world throws our way.

Psalm 1 says: Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. 

These verses are telling us that our delight is with the Lord and nothing else. Sometimes it may seem easy to stray down the path of darkness and start making decisions according to everything that we want but we need to follow the path that God has put forth. By doing this we’ll experience the greatest joy of all and that’s a relationship with God.

Joy Is Contagious

We have two scenarios for you here. Have you ever been at a party or gathering and someone walks in and lights up the room? And then there are people who have an adverse effect on us. They walk into a room and they bring everyone down. You probably know someone who fits each description.

The good news is, joy is contagious and others can experience your joy as well. The gift of joy that God gives us is so much more than a feeling, it’s a way of life.

Romans 15:13 says: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is a reminder of one of our most important missions on Earth. The mission of bringing others back to the life of Christ. We have the power to share God’s joy with others.

In 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 it says:

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.[a] This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Let’s start with that first paragraph. We’re like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. What a powerful verse. We’re walking around every day blissfully unaware of the fact that we have the greatest gift anyone could ever give us – the joy of the Lord.

It’s not something you can fabricate. It’s something you either have or you don’t. But, it is available to all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The next verse goes on to say that we’re pressed by troubles, but not crushed, perplexed, but not desperate, and so on. Through suffering, our bodies share the death of Jesus Christ so that Jesus is seen through our bodies. Another powerful verse.

This verse is saying that our suffering is also no accident. When we suffer, we are one with Christ, for He also suffered. God wants you to remember that even when you’re in the thick of it, there’s still time to praise the Lord for everything that happens in your life.

No matter what happens, God will pick us up, brush us off, and get us back on track.

Is Joy a Gift of the Holy Spirit?

The fruit of the Holy Spirit encompasses everything a person receives in return for living according to the teachings of the Bible. The book of Galatians talks about this by saying “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Based on this, we can see that joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s mentioned throughout scripture in many places that joy is the “work of God” and that if we’re struggling to feel joy all we need to do is turn to Him.

Joy is something that isn’t hard to find if you look around, but it is something we can find ourselves without if we’re not careful.

There’s nothing better than the feeling of pure happiness. It almost reminds you of being a child and having little care of the troubles around you. The incredible feeling of waking up on Christmas morning may be the only thing that could compare to the feeling of pure, uncontrollable happiness.

The good news is and always will be that the same feelings of joy are made possible thanks to Jesus Christ. Because he suffered, we’re able to experience happiness, sadness, pleasure, and all the feelings God wants for us to draw him closer to Him.

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