Psalm 21:1
 For the choir director. A Davidic psalm. LORD, the king finds joy in Your strength. How greatly he rejoices in Your victory!

Nehemiah 8:9-10
Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “ This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 what is the joy of the Lord?  the joy of knowing the the Lord. of being known….by Him.  of having returned from exile, of reading His words?

Hebrews 12 says ‘for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross’

angels rejoice when one sinner repents.

from Nehemiah-they have returned, rebuilt the wall, read from His words, grieved.  and Nehemiah says to them, do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.

 the concept of joy eludes me, i’ve been reaching for it ever since i read in John ‘no one will be able to take away your joy’; and ‘i say these things…so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.’  and then seeing in acts, after being flogged they went out rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for His Name..”  (John 15-17, Acts 5)

 what in the world is it that would overcome the natural emotions associated with having been flogged and replace it with rejoicing?  what did that rejoicing look like?  that joy set before that would enable one to endure the cross, scorning it’s shame? it definately was not happiness.  Neither Jesus nor the disciples would have been happy about what was happenning.  this must be something else. 

 in the case of Nehemiah, the people were grieving after understanding God’s word.  i am thinking, grieving over how short they had fallen?  but Nehemiah tells them not to grieve, that the joy of the Lord is their strength and stronghold.

 strength and stronghold.  Lord i want to get this, really get this at the core of my being. 

 is this preaching the gospel to myself over and over again?  the joy that is the result of having been saved?  Psalm 21 says ‘the king shall joy in Your strength, O Lord; and in Your salvation how greatly shall He rejoice.’  Psalm 28 reads ‘the LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults (rejoice exceedingly), and with song I will praise Him.

 sometimes it doesn’t seem like salvation or victory or help has come….but never- is the fact that salvation and victory and help Ultimately and where it matters most-never can this be taken or undone.  is this once again, where the cross not only stills my questions (vs. answers them) but also that the cross is my source of joy that gives strength and is a stronghold.  could it be that once i grasp this-once my heart truly rests in this, i could actually endure being flogged and go out rejoicing?  it seems pretty far-fetched.  but then i remember that last year when i studied the book of Acts, i studied it as the book of Acts of the Holy Spirit, not of the apostles.  so if in fact i should one day face flogging-the Holy Spirit could overcome my heart with rejoicing-using that same Power that raised Jesus from the dead.  but in the mean time-it’s not flogging i face, but rejection.  and misunderstanding, and disappointment.  and fitting in, and letting go, and not belonging, and plywood floors and front yards full of weeds. and children who bicker. and people who want nothing to do with You.  and work that is exhausting.  and fires in the mountains.  and the fact that any proper English writer would use proper grammar and never start a sentence with the word ‘and.’  these are small things-can i be faithful even in these small things?  oh how unfaithful i am with these small things.  but the principle does work here.  the joy of the Lord, the joy that He delights in me; that His love will not fail; that there is no condemnation for those in Christ; that He counted me worthy to hang on that cross…even Me!   even tho like a 2 year old i whine about far too much.  my heart can be settled with Nehemiah’s words too.  I rejoice in the Lord, my salvation.  He loves me deeply and has rescued me from the pit.  it is right to grieve over my sin-it is right to let His restoration and forgiveness replace that grief with Joy.   its a process to go thru, not to avoid. 

oh it does bring joy in the depths. 

and i do thank Him in song.