What is the joy of the Lord? Where does it come from and how do we get it?
Got Questions says, “The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.”
A pastor friend once preached, “The joy of the Lord is joy that comes from the Lord. It is a joy that is fueled by being in a right relationship with God through Jesus. It comes because we are living the life Christ intends us to live, not going off on our own.”
Read Lamentations 1:1-11. In these verses, Jeremiah is overwhelmed by the consequences of Judah’s sin. He is grieved over the people’s suffering and their broken relationship with God. God values His relationship with His children today just as much as He did when Jeremiah wrote these words. His heart longs for us to repent so that He can restore us to Himself. My pastor says that God restores us so that He can reuse us! Isn’t that great?
There are some warnings in this passage as well as predictions for those who do not follow the Lord’s instructions but instead try do life their own (disobedient) way. God’s children, who were “queens (or kings) among the princes” now have become “slaves to sin” (v 1). Those who let sin overtake them, enslaving and ensnaring them, “bitterly weep at night… there is none to comfort them” (v 2). Verse 3 says they “go into exile” and “will find no resting place.” They will be overtaken in the midst of their distress. They will be in bitter anguish (v 4). Their enemies will become their masters. The Lord will bring them grief because of their many sins. Their children will go into exile “captive before the foe” (v 5).
It just gets worse as time goes on. All their splendor will depart, they will be weak and will flee (v 6). They will have days of wandering and affliction. They’ll wish they could go back and do it differently. Boy, have I been there! There won’t be anyone to help them (v 7). They who were at one time honored will become despised. They themselves will groan and turn away (v 8).
Verse 9 describes more devastating results of being unrepentant. It says, “… she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her.” Then she herself says, “Look, O Lord, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.”
Reading this reminds me of something a former pastor would admonish, “Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go. It will keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and it will cost you far more than you were ever willing to pay.”
Disbelief, fear, anger, and helplessness are some of the feelings associated with the consequences of our gradually drifting away from God and His will for our life. If the drifting goes on too long, it will lead to running far and fast from God and what we know He wants for our life, to possibly a complete rejection of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power.
True repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of action. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
God may allow his children to continue down the path of self-destruction for many years, but all the while He is softly and tenderly calling us home. He longs for us to come back to Him. His arms are wide open. He’s watching and waiting for us. He loves us, no matter what.
Jesus is by His Father’s side even now, praying for you, that you may have the full measure of His joy within you (Jn. 17:13)!
Offering up prayers for you today, too, my friend… that you may find that complete joy which can only be found in a right relationship with Christ.
” … the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
~ Blessings, Becky