My last post talked about joy and sorrow mixed, but this one is about the Joy of the Lord being our strength. This is an interesting passage in Scripture! Joy of the Lord is our strength. It could be said that the opposite is true - depression, from Satan, is our weakness. While we are remain being weak in the sense of humility before God but the weakness I mean here is vulnerability. So I could say, the Joy of the Lord is our strength and depression (from Satan) makes us vulnerable. Both of these things have been very important thought processes for me these past few weeks.
I had a dream one night recently about lions. There were several of them around. They were hungry and mean. I don’t know if lions are mean but the ones in my dream were like the ones Peter describes in 1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The lions in my dream were going around literally tearing people up. They were tearing at skin, and wrapping their jaws around heads, even their own heads. It was gross to say the least! (And I don’t want to get any of you sick!)
Satan is looking for the vulnerable, the weak, the ones weak in faith and that have no joy. Joy, by the way, is not the same as happiness! That is important. I have a pet peeve about that. I get a bit irritated when I hear someone tell another that they just want the person to “be happy”. Now there’s nothing wrong with being happy but if being happy is our life goal, no wonder we get depressed! Happiness comes from our circumstances. We are happy when our children have taken a nice long nap and we are able to fit in an extra chapter to a good book, or finish the laundry stacked up to the ceiling. We are happy when our boyfriend gives us an engagement ring or when our husband’s surprise us with a bouquet of flowers or tickets to a show. We are happy when we can buy a bigger house with nicer furniture or when we lose enough weight to fit into the pants we had on before we ever became pregnant. But the problem with happiness is that the husband doesn’t bring flowers home anymore, the kids don’t nap at all, the laundry is always piled to the ceiling, and falling over onto the messy drink one of the kids just spilled in the laundry room (what were they doing in there anyway?). Our circumstances change too often and until we are in Heaven were everything thing, every relationship, and every ‘me’ is perfect, we will be happy all the time.
Joy is different. Joy can coincide along with sorrow! I was with friends last Monday at a restaurant. We were reminiscing about my Vinnie and some of the funny things he use to do. We were laughing like crazy…he was a very funny guy…but I was also crying. Part of me misses him terribly. I long to hear his voice. I long to have a conversation with him, to ask him things, to get his help, to go for a ride with him, or a walk with him. The beach will never be the same for me. The mountains will not either. Nothing will be. But I am SO full of joy that he is in the most perfect place any human can ever be in! I am full of joy that I will join the Lord and see Vinnie again there someday. I am so full of Joy that his life had meaning and purpose while he was here on earth just as mind does, and it has different meaning and purpose now that he is in his new home, just as mine will. I am filled with Joy because I know the Lord, He has proven himself again and again in my life and I have confidence in Him, even now that my Vinnie’s not here. I am thankful that my relationship with the Lord has been central in my life while Vinnie was here because because it is one part of my world that hasn't changed - and never will!
(The picture here of our grandson is Vinnie's way of goofing around. They were playing it up that Tyler was sick and he wrapped this ace bandage on his head and put the thermometer in his mouth. No wonder the child misses him - his goofy grandpa!)
It's ironic that my name, Gail, means, "a source of joy". The name Gale means something different. Gayle and Gail mean a source of joy. My mother must have instinctively known my name should be Gail because I know the joy of the Lord, I love to share the joy of the Lord with others, and I love the strength it gives me against my enemy - he can't weaken me, I am strong against his desire to pull me down and chew me up. Joy in the Lord. It will make us stronger every day! Praise God.