Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

October 17, 2003

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

It's just now beginning to occur to me what these words from Nehemiah 8:10 really mean. What did the author of Hebrews say? "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2) So precious are we to the Lord that He could look at the Cross "set before him," He could clearly foresee the pain and suffering of Calvary, and yet He could see through all that to the joy beyond. Not only the joy of returning to the Father, but the joy of winning us, by means of the Cross, back to the Father also.

And here's my point: this was His joy, and His joy can be my strength and your strength. Got that? My strength for today, my strength for the troubled relationship, my strength for the fear in the night, my strength for overcoming addiction or painful memories or the scourge of self-loathing, my strength is His joy and His joy is the Cross.

How can this be? I'm guessing that Romans 5:1-5 goes a long way toward explaining it to us. "Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (NLT)

Now, there's a lot there, I know, but do you see? Do you see how we too can look beyond the pain to the glory, because of Jesus? Do you see how that's a privilege? A glorious and imponderable gift? And do you see that it was Jesus Christ's joy to give it to us, no matter the cost? And that His joy, His giving, has become our strength? I don't know if I've made this at all clear, but for me it's pure freedom. Hallelujah!


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