This statement was made by Nehemiah in the book of Nehemiah 8:10b, as the prophet admonished the people of Israel. Paul also makes us understand in the book of Romans 14:17 that we have access to the joy of the kingdom through the Holy Spirit. So what is this joy to you? Is it a feeling of elation when things go well, or happiness when the father answers your prayers? Well all these could fall under the feeling of joy in happy times or day time. But what about the dark hours, when life seems to be throwing all sort of challenges at you? There surely has to be provision for Joy in difficult times. David makes reference to this strength in difficult times when he said, the lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 KJV). The joy of the world is fundamentally emotional and subject to life’s cares at best. But the joy we have in Christ is an ever dependable source of life grounded in the hope of the word of God through the Holy Spirit.
The joy of the Lord is brought about when the Holy Spirit quickens his word in our heart, and rather than just changing our emotions, it strengthens us with new life in the dark times. The joy of the Lord is like a well or river in our belly and the Holy Spirit is our fetching mechanism. David described this blessing in Psalm 46:4-5 “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” We see how the streams of the word bring about gladness and establish us in strength when times are hard. The strength we get from the word of God is brought about by the revelation of hope and love through the help of the Holy Spirit. David resounds this in Psalm 119: 162, I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. The worldly joy lacks in its ability to satisfy a man’s soul because, unlike the word of God, it doesn’t guarantee rest. The joy of the kingdom is ignited by faith in the word of God. For example, some weeks ago I was down and having a troubling challenge, but most confusing of all was the lack of clarity in the quest for answers. But my strength came in a moment after seeking God as the father whispered, “You shall come out as fine gold”, referring to Job 23:10, and there was it, an instant burst of life with thanksgiving in my heart and new strength by the word of God; such is the joy of the Lord! It is in the presence of the word (Christ in our heart), that there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Through the word of God, joy is reserved as waters in our belly to be drawn out by the faith. Our Lord sums this up in John 15:11 as he comforts his disciples: that he has first spoken that your joy(strength) will remain and he is still speaking by the word through the Holy Spirit so that your joy will be full (paraphrased). So what has God said to you by his word? Because this is where our strength lies, even a strength that overcomes. Even when we are not sure of what God is saying or he remains silent, remember you are called by his name (Isaiah 43) and all things work for you good (Romans 4:28), so we must lay hold on what he says about us in his word so we can joy in his love for us. A good habit that is proven and can be adopted in the hard times is to write his words down (because it’s very human to forget in dark times) and meditate on it until it is written on the plate of your heart. It is true that the joy of the Holy Spirit can be manifested and felt in the physical place of worship, but much more than that, the joy of the Lord is established in our hearts as the love of the father is revealed through his word. The truth is, we are guaranteed to have good and bad times as we go on in life, but be encouraged daily in Christ and feed richly on what God says about you and is saying to and of you. We acquire joy and strength in difficult times by resting and believing God’s word, and this builds our faith as it also pleases our father. May the joy of the father continuously rule our hearts in Jesus name.
“for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b KJV