Joy shows up at some pretty odd times throughout the Bible. Nehemiah 8 begins with Ezra reading the Book of the Law (given by God to Moses) to all the Israelites, who had gathered together. After hearing it, the people wept and mourned. I can relate! But then Ezra said something amazing:
“Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”
Verse 10, HCSB
The joy of the Lord is our strength! I think that God is far fonder of celebration than we ever give Him credit for being. Do we dance as often as God plays the flute for us? I’m not sure that I do.
The Hidden Power of Joy
A few days ago, I asked someone what she does to have fun with the Lord. And she didn’t understand what I was asking. She really didn’t know what I meant by ‘have fun.’ It struck me that maybe when people talked about enjoying the Lord, they didn’t always mean the same thing I did. So I started exploring the idea of God as fun and joyful—or not.
What I see today is the strength inherent in the joy of the Lord. It may look foolish or crazy to rejoice in the Lord when everything seems to be falling apart, but I think that there is power in joy that we don’t see. Satan would have us trembling and afraid, or angry and discouraged, when things go sideways. But Jesus rejoiced.
In Matthew 11, Jesus calls out Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for refusing to repent even though they had born witness to His mightiest miracles. But immediately after, He rejoices! Jesus praises God and celebrates His sovereign hand over the hard hearts in these cities. He’s not sad or discouraged or afraid. God is on the throne and Jesus rejoices in that fact. What a picture!
What Does Joy Proclaim?
Is it possible that joy is an offensive weapon in spiritual warfare? A powerful proclamation of the sovereignty and goodness of God? Maybe feasting can be as powerful as fasting when God calls for it. Isn’t that a strange thought?
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 AMP
…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.
Hebrews 12:2 ESV